Find out what's in your genes

Posted by fi17 at Feb 22, 2012 11:45 AM |
Free public lectures at University of Leicester on Tuesday 13 March

Do we age as a consequence of being protected against cancer?

The role of one of our genes which protects us from cancer but could also cause us to age will be explained in a lecture at the University of Leicester.

Dr Salvador Macip, of the Department of Biochemistry, will give his lecture The multiple lives of p53: from guardian of the genome to king of ageing on Tuesday 13 March 2012

Dr Macip will explain how the p53 gene has the power to stop and destroy any cancerous cells – but could also be responsible for the ageing of our bodies later in life.

He will give an overview of current research in the fields of ageing and cancer and will explain how scientists are trying to solve the problem.

Dr Macip said: “Evolution made sure that we are protected against cancer, otherwise we would all be dead before having time to procreate. That is why human cells have a very intricate network of genes that work together to ensure that everything will go according to plan. And, at least for the first half of our lives, they are usually successful.

“Nature has chosen p53 as one of the main guardians of our genome, because it has the power to stop and destroy any cell that does not obey the rules - but what is the price we have to pay? Does this brute force eventually take a toll on the organism? Could it be that the same thing that saves us from cancer when we are young is also responsible for ageing us?”

The event is part of a series of lectures organised by GENIE, the University of Leicester’s Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Genetics.

The evening will also feature a talk from Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Public Health Martin Tobin, of the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Genetics, titled How can our understanding of the genetics of lung disease be used to improve health?.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), encompassing chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is the fifth biggest killer in the UK. The hunt for genetic variants that predict lung health and COPD finally led to major discoveries by University of Leicester researchers led by Professor Tobin in 2009 and in 2011.

In this lecture, Professor Tobin will outline how the discoveries were made and how the information could be used to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The lectures will be held at The Frank and Katherine May Lecture Theatre, Henry Wellcome Building, University of Leicester on Tuesday 13 March from 6.30pm.

For more information and to book your place, please contact Dr Aneela Majid at GENIE on 0116 223 1588 or at



Report by Mark Cardwell

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