Research Unit

Signalling and Cell Growth

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Sylvain Meloche and his team study the signalling mechanisms that control cell division, the differentiation and survival of normal and cancer cells. The research aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for cancer treatment based on these mechanisms.

Research theme

The expansion of cell populations is a strictly controlled process that results from the balance between cell division and cell death. In multi-cellular organisms, cells continuously monitor their environment for nutrient and signal availability (mitogens, trophic factors, stress) to decide whether to self-renew, proliferate, differentiate or die. Incorrect interpretation of these signals may lead to cancer.

Sylvain Meloche’s laboratory uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand how signalling pathways control the fate of normal and cancer cells. Defining the importance and interconnection of these signalling events will further the understanding of the malignant transformation process and help in the identification of new target molecules for cancer treatment.

Research objectives

Sylvain Meloche’s team particularly focuses on mode of operation, regulation and kinase proteins targets of the MPA kinases family, mainly ERK1/2 and ERK3/4, known as essential regulators of cell proliferation, and kinases of the SRC family. His laboratory developed several models of genetically altered mice to study the pathophysiological role of these enzymes.

His work also involves analyzing the signalling pathways involved in the development of liver cancer for the purpose of identifying new therapeutic targets and new biomarkers. Professor Meloche also participates in studies combining a characterization of molecular alterations of liver cancer with the analysis of images using artificial intelligence approaches in order to identify imaging markers specific to each type of cancer. Imaging biomarkers provide a simpler and less invasive alternative for accurately recognizing a type of tumor and could lead to personalized and more affordable therapeutic solutions to fight cancer.

Finally, Professor Meloche’s team has long been interested in the ubiquitin-proteasome system of protein degradation and its role in cell signalling and cell proliferation. One of their objectives is to show that certain components of the regulation system constitute potential therapeutic targets in cancer and to develop small molecule inhibitors that could be used in new targeted cancer therapies.

Research topics

Research team