For 15 years, I studied the intricacies of how human cells divide (mitosis) in order to make new cells, how this goes wrong when cells become cancerous and how to sensitise cancer cells to anti-mitotic chemotherapy drugs. All of this work took place using cancer cell lines – cancer cells that keep dividing over very long periods of time in a flask – which has been very informative, but unfortunately they often do not reflect the original tumour or have limited associated clinical information. Facilitated by our new location at The Christie Hospital site, my team are now building a living biobank of ovarian cancer cells by collecting samples directly from patients who have been newly diagnosed or relapsed and having treatment at the hospital. This hub of ovarian patient samples, or ex vivo cultures, allows us to: 1. Potentially screen a patient sample against various drugs to empirically see what treatment might benefit the patient and 2. See how samples are changing when ovarian cancer patients relapse following treatment, potentially giving insight into the biology of drug resistance. With ovarian cancer being the 8th leading cause of female cancer-related death and with limited treatment options, this biobank could prove vital in opening up opportunities to improve current therapies and for novel therapy discoveries.
About the speaker – Professor Stephen Taylor
After completing a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry at The University of Manchester, I moved to the Department of Biochemistry in Oxford to pursue my doctoral studies, working in Prof. Ed Southern’s lab. After completing my PhD, I moved to Harvard Medical School where I worked with Prof. Frank McKeon. Returning to the U.K. to establish an independent research programme in Manchester, I was first funded by a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship, then Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Senior Research Fellowships in 2004 and in 2009, when I became Professor of Cell Biology. In 2015, I was awarded the Leech Chair of Pharmacology and in 2016 a CRUK Programme Award. A 2016 move to the Manchester Cancer Research Centre led to collaborations with CRUK’s Manchester Drug Discovery Unit and clinicians at The Christie Hospital. This has now enabled the lab to combine high-quality basic science with translational science and drug discovery in the context of ovarian cancer.
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1. CRUK blog about biobank – https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/research-features/2021-03-26-the-journey-to-patient-avatars-building-a-living-biobank-for-ovarian-cancer?utm_source=twitter_crukresearch&utm_medium=cruksocialmedia
2. The lab’s website – www.bub1.com