Author: Vania Braga

South Kensington Campus – Centralised booking system for meeting rooms

There is now an online booking system available for Faulty of Medicine meeting rooms in the Sir Alexander Building and Flowers buildings, South Kensington Campus.   The new system has the advantages to gather in a single place meeting rooms with information on location, equipment and capacity.  Importantly,  booking is now done faster and easier by providing room availability updated daily.

Please check in the link:

I would like to thank Faculty of Medicine for support and give special thanks to people that made possible this project: Michele Foot, who coordinated the team, and the help from Taylor Bennie, Jeremy Jones, James Moore, Al McCartney, Andrew Pritchard, Peter Moore and Kylie Glasgow.

We hope you find the new system useful and we would appreciate any comments and suggestions to improve it.

Dr Vania Braga
Reader in Cell-cell Adhesion Signalling
National Heart & Lung Institute
Faculty of Medicine

Blocking cells’ starvation response could help beat cancer

Degradation of intracellular material in autophagy is regulated by Armus. Armus (labelled in red) co-localises with LC3 (labelled in green) in autophagosomes destined to fuse and be degraded in lysosomes.

At home, we are all used to recycle different items, by separating them into distinct containers and sending to specialised places to be destroyed into raw materials.  Cells also do the same: they destroy unwanted material into small components that can then be recycled to obtain energy and building blocks for proteins and lipids.

A recent paper published in Developmental Cell by my group (The Braga Lab) in NHLI, investigates the mechanisms of degradation of intracellular material leading to cell survival in the absence of nutrients.

This process is called autophagy and is important in a number of pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases (where misfolded proteins are cleared out) and survival of cancer cells inside tumours.  Stopping tumour cells from doing this would improve the effectiveness of treatments and the survival of cancer patients.   However, specific inhibitors of autophagy are still being developed that could be used in clinic.

Our lab has identified a novel regulator of autophagy named Armus.  Armus facilitates the delivery of unwanted material found in specialised packages (autophagosomes) for degradation in organelles called lysosomes.   Blocking Armus function considerably delays clearing out cellular components and autophagy progression.  Armus does so by interacting directly with LC3, a protein found at autophagosomes, which then localizes Armus at the right place and time.

Inhibiting autophagy has been shown to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for lung and pancreatic tumours..  We found that if you stop Armus from working, the unwanted intracellular components don’t get broken down. Cells thus cannot obtain extra energy from recycling parts that helps their survival. This opens the door to developing novel drugs that targets Armus and helps conventional therapies kill cancer cells more efficiently.

Our research was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Association for International Cancer Research, the Wellcome Trust, the Brunei Government and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Vania Braga
Reader in Cell-cell Adhesion Signaling, Molecular Medicine
National Heart and Lung Institute