Dr Thomas Millard


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The formation of our tissues during embryonic developments involves a complex set of cell movements as each cell manoeuvres itself into the correct location. Similar movements are also required in adults when tissues are repaired following an injury. We are investigating how these cell movements occur and how they are controlled to ensure that each cell movement occurs correctly. Cell movement is driven by the continual remodelling of a structural network within the cell called the cytoskeleton. We are interested in understanding how remodelling of the cytoskeleton is controlled to achieve precise cell movements. As it is extremely difficult to study cell movement in complex organisms such as humans, we are using a simple organism, the fruit fly Drosophila for our research. Drosophila embryos are transparent meaning we can image cell movement with high resolution in live embryos. In addition, we can use genetic techniques to study the function of individual genes in cell movement. Our research will lead to a better understanding cell movement which will help in the development of treatments for birth defects and injury. It will also improve our understanding of cancer metastasis, which occurs when tumour cells inappropriately acquire the ability to move.

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