A study into the effect of aspirin on specific genetic pathways implicated in the development of bowel cancer has successfully levered an additional award from the Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The award of more than £475,000 will support Dr Lesley Stark from the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh in progressing pilot work supported by Bowel & Cancer Research.

Dr Stark's team demonstrated that TIF-IA is degraded in response to aspirin and that this is causally involved in activation of a specific genetic pathway that encourages the death (apoptosis) of bowel cancer cells. TIF-IA is a transcription factor that controls the rate at which genetic information passes from the DNA to messenger RNA.

This new award will enable Dr Stark to understand how aspirin causes the degradation of TIF-IA; to determine how altered TIF-IA levels lead to activation of the genetic pathway of interest and consequently the death of bowel cancer cells; and finally to determine the role of the interrelation of the genes of interest in the ageing process (senescence) of cells.

Dr Stark was awarded £32,000 by Bowel & Cancer Research in 2017 to pursue a pilot study based on the evidence of aspirin having a protective effect against the development of bowel cancer. Though this is known, aspirin also has contra-indications which mean that care must be taken in how it is used. By identifying the mechanism through which the drug acts to protect against bowel cancer, this could then be exploited to deliver new therapies without aspirin's side effects.

Read Dr Stark's full paper here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168952519301581