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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Inflammation and Cancer Risk 

Inflammation is a natural first line of defense for the body under aggression, but it can evolve into a negative force able to promote cancer and other diseases if excessive or ill-regulated.


peaking at atomsThe image corresponds to a microscopic view of a stained section of mouse skin tissue that is heavily inflammed as a result of the genetically-engineered deletion of a specific keratin cytoskeletal protein. By virtue of its strategic location at the interface with the external world, the skin plays important roles of protection, immunological surveillance, and defense. See the following link for more details on the research ongoing in Pierre Coulombe’s laboratory.


Inflammation is a manifestation of innate immunity and corresponds to the rapid and non-specific defense response elicited by various challenges including traumatic injury, exposure to environmental threats (e.g., polluted air) and infectious agents (e.g., viruses, bacteria) or other forms of stresses that threaten the integrity of organs, tissues, and processes in our body.  Innate and acquired immunity responses are each highly complex and multi-faceted, and can go awry if prolonged, excessive, or show an imbalance among the multitude of soluble and cellular effectors involved. Chronic inflammation “of the wrong type” is now recognized to be a powerful driver of tumorigenesis, of aging-related disorders such as neurodegeneration, and of other chronic conditions. Inflammation is one among many risk factors for acute and chronic diseases that is being studied in the Department. More can be learned about these and related ongoing efforts here .