Amsterdam, January 8 2013 - The European Research
Council (ERC) appointed a grant of over 2.4 million euros to Reuven
Agami, researcher at the Netherlands Camcer Institute in Amsterdam.
The ERC, promoting groundbreaking research since 2006, is an
organization that appoints grant to the biggest scientific talents
in Europe, on a yearly basis.
Agami's research proposal aims at enhancers and a way to turn
off their activity. Enhancers are bits of DNA that heighten the
expression, and with that the effect, of genes around them.
Recently it has been showed that enhancers produce a special kind
of RNA (enhancer-RNA or eRNA for short), that is important for the
heightening effect of enhancers. This last result was published two
weeks ago in the journal Molecular Cell by the Agami group.
Agami continues the search for genetic tools to inactivate
enhancers via eRNAs, so that the local production of genes is
decreased. If this also works in the genes that play a role in the
initiation of cancer, the so-called oncogenes, these tools could be
used to inhibit tumor growth.
An extraordinary feat is that Agami is the first, and so far the
only one, in Europe to receive both a Starting Grant (1.3 million)
and an Advanced Investigators Grant (2.4 million) from the ERC.
With the allocation of the grant to Agami, who works at the
Netherlands Cancer Institute but is also appointed professor
MicroRNA and Pathogenesis at the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam,
the Netherlands Cancer Institute is on the right track. Over the
last years the ERC has given other grants to the research of the
Netherlands Cancer Institute such as: René Bernards, Titia Sixma,
Jacques Neefjes, Huib Ovaa, Ton Schumacher, Bas van Steensel, Thijn
Brummelkamp and Jacqueline Jacobs.