Many forms of cancer can be treated with cytotoxic drugs. Such treatment is often successful in the first instance, but the cancer usually evolves and often returns as a drug resistant tumour. We are interested in characterising the changes in miRNA expression that occur as cancer cells acquire drug resistance. More importantly we want to test whether perturbing miRNAs can induce or reverse the resistance to cytotoxic drugs such as cisplatin.
The bystander effect is a curious phenomenon in which cells that have been hit with ionising radiation release factors that signal to neighbouring cells. This factor can be taken up by nearby unirradiated cells triggering the appearance of DNA damage. We have shown that extracellular vesicles are responsible for this so called "bystander effect". We now wish to characterise the contents of these vesicles and understand the mechanisms by which they can induce DNA damage in neighbouring cells.
We are also interested in how the structure of the beta globin locus changes during erythroid differentiation. In particular we wish to understand the role of long non-coding RNAs in regulating the chromatin conformation around the gamma- and beta-globin genes. Greater understanding of how these genes are regulated could lead to novel ways to treat sickle cell anaemia.
We are very grateful to our funders of the years, including:
The Cancer and Polio Research Fund
The Royal Society
Action Medical Research
The Dunhill Medical Trust
The British Society of Haematology
Oxford Brookes University