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News and events from the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics

You can find notable news articles relating to the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics below.

July 2021

ICT present at “Action Meso Day” 2021

Dr. Hannah Moody from the ICT presented at the “Action Meso Day” on Friday 2nd July 2021. The event was concentrated on scientists and clinicians communicating their research to patients, and how important patient involvement in research is within mesothelioma. Dr Moody’s presentation was focussed on resistance to chemotherapy in mesothelioma and how we may be able to overcome it, through targeting specific chemotherapy transport pathways in cells.

Dr. Moody commented “I am a passionate advocator for patient involvement in research and how we should work with patients to design and discuss projects to ensure they are relevant. “

For more information please visit Action Meso Day 

Dr. Hannah Moody, Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Bradford

Dr Hannah Moody:  Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology at the ICT


June 2021

Could naked mole rats hold the key to curing cancer and dementia?

Scientists at the ICT University of Bradford say naked mole rats -- a rodent native to West Africa -- may hold the key to new treatments for degenerative diseases such as cancer and dementia.  The reclusive animals have a lifespan far in excess of other rodents -- for example, mice and rats live about two years, whereas naked mole rats can live for 40 or 50 years. Researchers at the University of Bradford say the animals have a unique DNA repair mechanism that enables them to prevent cancers and other degenerative conditions, including dementia.

Cancer resistant

Professor Sherif El-Khamisy, Director of the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University, said: "Naked mole rats are fascinating creatures, not least because they are so long lived compared to other rodents of the same size. They also do not suffer from -- what we call in humans -- age associated disorders, such as cancer, dementia and neurological decline.

"What we're trying to do is to understand what makes them so resistant and then to try to harness that knowledge to come up with new treatments for cancer and conditions like dementia in people.

"This is not about extending life but extending the quality of life."

DNA mutations

Prof El-Khamisy, from the University's Faculty of Life Sciences, is the lead author of a paper, DNA Homeostasis and Senescence: Lessons from the Naked Mole Rat, recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

To read the full article 

Image of a Naked Mole RatThe Naked Mole Rat

"Lessons from the Naked Mole Rat" states: "As we age, our bodies accrue damage in the form of DNA mutations. These mutations lead to the generation of sub-optimal proteins, resulting in inadequate cellular homeostasis and senescence. The build-up of senescent cells negatively affects the local cellular micro-environment and drives ageing associated disease, including neurodegeneration.

"Which processes show an increased burden as naked mole rats age may identify novel biological targets to mitigate our own degeneration."

May 2021

Hyperthermia Safeguards the Genome

Hyperthermia enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy by inhibiting DNA repair pathways, leading to persistent  DNA damage. In contrast hyperthermia protects cells from topoisomerase targeting through an unknpwn mechanism. In a recently published article in Cancers, the research team uncovered that hyperthermia inhibits the nonspecific repair of DNA damage by nucleases, which consequently channels repair to the alternative error-free pathways mediated by a class of enzymes known as TDPs. This new effect of hyperthermia subsequently led to suppression of therapy induced chromosomal translocations and hallmarks of inflammation.

The Lead author, Sherif El-Khamisy, said “The mechanistic impact of heat stress on the widely used anti-cancer topoisomerase targeting therapeutics has remained unknown for quite sometime. Here, we showed that heat stress acts as a pathway switch favouring the error-free repair of DNA damage induced by the anti-cancer drug. The consequent suppression of error-prone repair pathways reduces hallmarks of therapy associated chromosomal instability (secondary cancers) and inflammation”

Director of ICT photo image 3

Lead author Prof Sherif El-Khamisy, Director of the ICT

To read the full article 

Covance by Labcorp will offer work experience to students at the ICT and help design the MRes curriculum

A partnership between Covance by Labcorp, based in Harrogate, and the Institute for Cancer Therapeutics (ICT) at the University of Bradford, will strengthen research into chronic diseases and enhance learning opportunities.

It will begin by running a ‘boot camp’ this year to enable postgraduate students to shadow professional lab technicians and scientists. From next year, some postgraduate students will be offered up to nine months paid employment with the firm as part of the new 12-month postgraduate Master by Research (MRes) degree at the ICT. The company will also play an active role in helping design parts of the taught curriculum.

The MRes programmes in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, comprises one-third taught element and two thirds University lab or industry lab-based research project. There are currently six specialisms within the MRes programme in: Cancer Drug Discovery, Cancer Pharmacology, Drug Toxicology & Safety Pharmacology, Molecular & Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, and Pharmaceutical Technology.


To read the full press release

For further information about the MRes programme and the University of Bradford Covance by Labcorp Training Scheme, please visit our website or contact the programme leader, Dr Kamyar Afarinkia 

Targeted microbubbles for ultrasound-triggered delivery of CombretastatinA4

Some anti-cancer drugs are not very water soluble. This can cause problems when injecting intravenously into patients. This article published in Nanomedicine and co-authored by Professor Paul Loadman from the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics describes the use of a lipid-based nanoemulsion formulation termed Lipid-Oil-Nanodroplets (LONDs) for the encapsulation of a poorly soluble drug called Combretastatin A4 (CA4) to help in its administration. This formulation was tested in human colon tumours in mice. Using very sensitive analytical techniques (mass spectrometry) we showed that giving the drug using LONDs at four times lower dose than when giving the drug alone achieved the same drug concentrations in the tumour. The drug containing LONDS were also attached to microbubbles (MBs) and targeted to the blood vessels of the tumour causing a reduction in tumour blood flow in these treated tumours.

To read the full article 

To learn more about the technology visit  the Leeds Microbubble Consortium

Paul LoadmanJournal front cover for ICT news item

Prof. Paul Loadman from the ICT said "Overall this study suggests that LONDs, either alone or attached to targeted microbubbles, have the potential to significantly enhance tumour-specific delivery of poorly soluble drugs."

April 2021

Germ cell tumours are a common cancer of young men, but how do they arise?

Unlike many other cancers, germ cell tumours are most common in children and young men. In a new publication, academics at the ICT sought to better understand the origin of these tumours.

In the embryo, our cells are separated into those that build the body, and those that are set aside to later produce gametes (either eggs or sperm). However, before these cells become eggs or sperm, for a short window of development, they can be coaxed into making almost any type of cell.

In this new publication, Dr Peter Nicholls looks across different species to understand how these embryonic cells normally lose their ability to make any type of cell. Comparing this with the clinical behaviour of germ cell tumours, the team pinpoint that these tumours arise from errors occurring at a specific stage of embryonic development.

A deeper knowledge of these tumours is important for understanding their rising incidence in recent decades, and in developing new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

To read the full article

Lecturer in Molecular BiologyJournal Front cover Development


Co/Lead-author Dr. Peter Nicholls a researcher at the ICT commented that this work is a first step to better reconciling clinical data with our knowledge of development. “Decades of research across the globe has given us an increasingly deeper knowledge of the clinical behaviour of these tumours. Integrating these clinical findings with data from other species, such as fish and mice, we identify that these tumours can arise when cells stray from normal development".

Long Service Award to ICT Research team Member

Tricia Cooper, who is currently a Senior Scientist working at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics has been recognized by the University for her long service at a recent ceremony. Tricia came to work at (what was at the time) the Cancer Research Unit when it was based on All Saints Road in 1995 and has ever since been a valuable member of the research team at the ICT, contributing to in vitro and in vivo research on new cancer drugs which have progressed to the clinic. She has also passed on her expertise and helped train and supervise several PhD, Masters and BSc students who have spent time in the cancer research laboratories.

Photo of Patricia Cooper

Tricia Cooper Senior Scientist at the ICT

March 2021

DMPK and Drug Discovery Open Day Tuesday 13th April

The Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (ICT) is delighted to announce we will be staging a virtual DMPK and Drug Discovery Open Day on Tuesday 13th April between 13.00-15.00.

The Open Day will introduce the DMPK team at the ICT and highlight the excellent research facilities available at the Institute and the exceptional research and knowledge transfer track record of the DMPK team.

The program schedule is given below:

13.00-13.15 An introduction to the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics and the DMPK research team

13.15-13.45 DMPK research case studies

13.45-14.00 A virtual tour of the DMPK facilities in the ICT

14.00-14.15 The ICT from a new starter perspective

14.15-15.00 Q and A session

Joining instructions are given here

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 886 4704 4294

Passcode: 687188

DMPK and Drug Discovery "the Bradford Experience"

The Open Day is free for everyone to attend and applicants for the currently advertised Lecturer in Pharmacokinetics at the Institute are encouraged to join. 

For more information about the DMPK team at the ICT please visit our DMPK pages

ICT Director drives successful bid for cutting edge gene editing facility

A new dedicated gene therapy hub for the North of England will fast track treatments for diseases and conditions which are at present incurable.

The Gene Therapy Innovation and Manufacturing Centre (GTIMC) housed in Sheffield will be one of three cutting-edge hubs in the UK dedicated to advancing the training, capacity building and development of clinical development of new genetic treatments. It is part of an £18m network created by LifeArc and the Medical Research Council (MRC), with support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Professor Sherif El-Khamisy Director of the Institute Cancer Therapeutics who led the University of Bradford in the consortium of the successful bid. He said the scheme would develop new cures to conditions which are at present considered ‘incurable’, including inherited disorders.

Prof El-Khamisy said: “Gene therapy has huge potential. It has already led to cures for conditions such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). In the future, we will be looking at conditions like motor neurone disease, Alzheimer’s and rare cancers

To read full press release

Professor Sherif El-Khamisy is a qualified pharmacist and is currently the Director of Research and Innovation in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield, overseeing a research budget of over £21m and managing large teams of research staff. He will join the University of Bradford in August 2020 as the new Director of the Institute of Cancer TherapeuticsProfessor El-Khamisy said the scheme would develop new cures to conditions which are at present considered ‘incurable’, including inherited disorders.