Our research centres upon understanding the molecular underpinnings of why some patients respond to cancer therapies – in particular standard-of-care chemotherapeutics – whilst others do not, and using this knowledge as the basis for refining treatment strategies.
The ultimate goal of our research is to provide cancer patients with better treatment options. We believe one way this can be achieved in a timely manner is by focusing research efforts upon commonly used chemotherapeutic agents. These therapies, which form standard-of-care for many cancers, typically kill tumour cells by targeting pan-essential pathways, principally metabolism of the DNA molecule or its nucleotide building blocks (deoxynucleoside triphosphates, dNTPs). In our research program we aim to define the molecular underpinnings of why some cancers respond to these therapies whilst others do not. This information can provide the basis for rational therapy improvements through the identification of biomarkers and therapeutic targets together with the design of mechanism-based drug combinations. We employ a multidisciplinary approach in our research – centred upon biochemical, biophysical, and cell-based methods – and use both hypothesis-driven and hypothesis-free approaches in our efforts to define and exploit the molecular mechanisms underpinning clinical efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents.
In addition, these same pathways which are targeted by commonly used cancer drugs – metabolism of the DNA molecule and its dNTP building blocks – are also fundamental to cancer biology. Key aspects of oncogenesis derive from the interplay of these metabolic pathways, and thus we also investigate this interplay at the molecular level and seek to use knowledge gained in a translationally productive manner.
- Si Min Zhang, Postdoc
- Miriam Yagüe-Capilla, Postdoc
- Femke Hormann, Postdoc
- Christopher Dirks, PhD student