Dr Karl Morten, Michelle, Cindy and Dr Helen Townley
On Friday 30th November Peter and I went to meet with the researchers in Oxford to catch up with the news on the research front….we were extremely impressed with the progress and left with renewed vigor to raise more money…a LOT more money to keep Dr Helen Townley at Oxford.
Update on research at Oxford University Nov 2012
This year has seen some exciting breakthroughs for the paediatric oncology research team at Oxford University. Earlier this year Dr Elizabeth Rapa’s research paper entitled “The over expression of cell migratory genes in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma could contribute to metastatic spread” was published in the Journal of Clinical Experimental Metastasis. This paper represents 4 years of hard work by Dr Chris Mitchells’ team and identifies several novel therapeutic targets.
Williams fund currently supports two PhD students at the University of Oxford. Miss Michelle Potter working in Dr Karl Morten’s group at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Miss Xinyue (Cindy) Huang in the Department of Engineering working with Dr Helen Townley. Michelle receives a studentship from the Williams fund while Cindy receives support for experimental costs. Michelle is investigating whether manipulating cancer cell metabolism is a viable therapeutic target and Cindy is developing novel silica nanoparticle delivery systems. Both students have recently transferred to full DPhil status and are entering the final year of their studies. Michelle recently presented a poster of her work entitled “Targeting mitochondria as a therapeutic target in cancer: But not all cancers are the same” at the Hallmarks of Cancer meeting, San Francisco October 2012. Cindy presented a poster of her work entitled “Synthesis and characterisation of mesoporous Silica nanoparticles towards delivery of chemotherapeutics” at the 15th European Microscopy Congress, Manchester September 2012.
The future: We have reached an exciting stage in our research. We have identified appropriate in vitro models in which to test drugs that modulate metabolism and have a range of silica nanoparticles which can be tailored to fit with the therapeutics we wish to deliver. Over the next year we will focus on drugs which target metabolism including Dichloroacetate, and reactive oxygen inducing agents such as Vitamin K3 and PI3 kinase inhibitors.
Recent research suggests that effective cancer treatment will probably require multiple cancer drug targets to be attacked simultaneously (Hanahan 2011, Cell, 144, 646-674). With sufficient funding we can then investigate targeting different cancer cell targets with multiple therapeutics using nanoparticles to improve drug delivery and reduce drug toxicity. In addition, it is becoming more apparent that treatments must be tailored to suit individual patients. Thus, one of our long term aims is to assess the metabolic profiles of biopsy material from cancer patients with the aim of predicting which patient is likely to respond well to our particular treatments.
Nanoparticle technology in Cancer Treatment Very exciting breakthrough from Dr Helen Townley