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Today, cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada, while AIDS kills the largest number of people worldwide. In order for effective therapies to fight these fatal diseases to be found, it is essential to acquire a better understanding of a number of molecular mechanisms operating in affected cells.
Pr. Brendan Bell’s research aims to identify the disruptions in the expression of genes in cancerous cells and in cells infected by HIV while the virus is still in a latent state.
Pr. Bell’s starting point is the finding that a number of cancers are associated with alteration of the process that normally determines the programmed death of diseased cells.
Pr. Bell’s overall goal is to understand and determine how cell death signals express themselves at the molecular level.
With respect to AIDS, Pr. Bell’s work focuses on the latency mechanisms of the HIV virus, and more particularly, the HIV-1 promoter and virus transcription.
Existing therapies are unable to destroy HIV in infected cells when the virus in still in a latent state.
Pr. Bell’s work could lead to the development of new gene therapies for cancer and AIDS over the next few years.