Hormel Institute scientist receives grant for research that could lead to new treatments for bile duct cancer and other biliary diseases

Sergio Gradilone, PhD, Associate Professor and leader of the Cancer Cell Biology and Translational Research section at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, has received a grant titled “Primary Cilia Loss in Bile Duct Cells – the Interplay with the Autophagy Machinery” from the National Institutes of Health.

The research to be conducted with this funding could lead to new treatments for cancer and other diseases that affect bile ducts and the gallbladder.  Cilia are the part of a cell similar to an antenna that receives signals from the environment around it. Ciliary defects in the cell and/or in the bile ducts are associated
with diseases like bile duct cancer and polycystic liver disease (PLD).

The goal of Dr. Gradilone’s study is to further dissect the mechanisms maintaining cilia stability and understand the role of cilia in the regulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling. EGFR is a protein that controls cell division and survival.  The loss or dysfunction of cilia enhances EGFR signaling, which is enhanced in bile duct cancer and PLD.

The four year, $1.9 million RO1 grant was awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Gradilone is working with Liqiang Chen, PhD, Associate Professor, Center for Drug Design (CDD) at the University of Minnesota and collaborators from Mayo Clinic on this study.

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