Researchers at a Devon medical school have secured thousands of pounds to fund a project that could lead to a breakthrough in cancer treatment.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have awarded Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry almost £500,000 to conduct a study in to a cell mechanism that is linked with cancer.
The research aims to improve knowledge of planar cell polarity (PCP) - a fundamental mechanism that controls growth and development by aligning cells and tissues in the body.
Defects in PCP are associated with a number of diseases, including spina bifida, whilst changes in the mechanism are often the early stage “cellular events” that lead to cancer.
The researchers will also be screening chemical compounds which could be developed in to new drug therapies to treat cancer and other PCP related diseases.
“This work is potentially very exciting,” said Dr Bing Hu, associate professor in oral and dental health research at the school, who will head the study.
“It could allow us to develop early diagnosis tools and therapies that could disrupt this disease-contributing mechanism at the very earliest stages of cancer,”
“Not only would this greatly improve the quality of life and life expectancy for patients, but it would also significantly reduce clinical costs,” he said, citing the UK’s current total annual expenditure of more than £15 billion to treat cancer patients as an example of these costs.
“The direct link between what we plan to do in the laboratory and the potential for future treatments - in other words, translational biomedical research - is extremely exciting,” he added.