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Lena Duma

Lena Duma

DPhil, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology

Understanding factors involved in PARP signalling

PARPs act as DNA damage sensors in the cells. When they detect the damage they ADP-ribosylate neighbouring histones to recruit DNA damage repair factors to the site. However, the ADPr response is tightly regulated by different factors to make sure it occurs in correct place at a correct time. Not much is known about all of these proteins and how their activity in ADPr signalling affects the DNA damage response. During my project, I hope to elucidate details of this signalling pathway and apply them to better understand responses to PARPi therapy in cancer patients. 

How could your research ultimately benefit Patients? 

Compounds targeting ADPr signalling through inhibition of PARPs are currently used in clinic to treat solid tumours such as breast and ovarian cancers. Better understanding of other factors involved in the signalling pathway will allow us to better select patients who will benefit from therapy. We also hope to understand the mechanisms by which cancers acquire resistance to PARP inhibitor therapy. 

About Lena 

I acquired my BA in Cell and Systems Biology in University of Oxford where I briefly worked with my current DPhil supervisor during my undergraduate project. I then spent a year in King’s College London on MSc in Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Research programme where I worked in a laboratory studying environmental carcinogenesis.  

Since the beginning of my adventure with science I was fascinated with fundamental cancer biology and how the understanding of the underlying cell biology can be used to design successful treatment for the disease so the decision to apply for the Cancer Science programme was very natural.