Dr Emma Vincent wants to understand why people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop certain types of cancer than people without Type 2. She will be investigating changes inside the body that may encourage these cancers to develop. Dr Vincent hopes that by understanding these processes, we will be able to find ways to protect people with Type 2 from developing certain cancers in the future.
Background to research
People with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and cancer of the uterus. But it doesn’t affect the risk of all types of cancers, and we need to understand why this is the case. Research suggests that it might be to do with various molecules circulating in the blood of people with and at high risk of Type 2 diabetes. Scientists think that if cells are exposed to very high levels of these molecules, it might make them more likely to turn into cancer cells.
Dr Vincent will take two cutting-edge approaches to understand why people with Type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of certain cancers. First of all, she will analyse a large set of molecules to understand which specific ones may be involved in encouraging specific cancers to develop. She will also find out how cancer cells could take advantage of abnormal levels of nutrients in the blood to support their growth and survival. To do this, Dr Vincent will grow cancer cells in the lab and compare samples of cancer tissue obtained from both people with and without Type 2 diabetes. Dr Vincent hopes to uncover the molecules, found at higher levels in people with Type 2, which could potentially contribute to the growth of cancer. When these molecules are known, scientists could look for ways to reduce their levels.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
We’re committed to better understanding Type 2 diabetes and improving the lives of people with Type 2. This project would help us understand why people with Type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of certain cancers and hopefully open up future opportunities to reduce this risk.