Evaluation of Junctional Adhesion Molecule-A (JAM-A) as a novel potential biomarker and therapeutic target in thyroid
Dr A Hopkins
Monday, December 02, 2019
Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Thyroid cancer is a growing problem in Ireland and across Western nations in general. Although many cases are surgically treatable, the lack of a national screening programme in Ireland means that some thyroid tumours are diagnosed late and thus patient survival prospects are extremely poor. In conjunction with the fact that genetic mutations are relatively rare in thyroid tumours (compared to, for example, breast or lung cancer); this highlights the importance of seeking or validating new proteins that might contribute to disease progression or open up alternative therapeutic approaches.
We propose that the protein Junctional Adhesion Molecule-A (JAM-A) represents a potential biomarker and therapeutic target worthy of investigation in thyroid cancer. The overexpression of JAM-A has already been demonstrated to correlate with disease progression and poor patient prognosis in many solid tumours, but nothing is known about its potential contribution to thyroid cancer. However, the expression of a structurallysimilar protein belonging to the same protein superfamily as JAM-A has recently been linked with thyroid cancer severity.
This project proposes a joint scientist-/clinician-led approach towards interrogating the role of JAM-A in thyroid cancer. It will span a continuum of translational research: using molecular and cell biology data from patients to inform functional assays and ultimately test the druggability of JAM-A in thyroid cancer settings. Collectively, this will ensure broad-spectrum training for the student and the exciting possibility of defining a novel biomarker and therapeutic target for a cancer which is both intellectually stimulating and socio-economically challenging.