Our research focus

Our main research areas are metastatic gastrointestinal and breast cancers.  We focus on how inflammation drives the progression to advanced disease and how new treatments could be designed to block its harmful effects.

Understanding how pro-inflammatory pathways drive tumour progression

Inflammatory cytokines make cancer cells more prone to growth and spreading to other parts of the body. By understanding how pro-inflammatory cytokines cause these cellular effects, we have been able to identify molecular targets, for which we are now developing targeted treatments.

Cancer drug discovery

Our research has led to the identification of particular inflammatory pathways, which we now aim to target so we can develop specific treatments which will block cancer growth in the gastrointestinal tract. Working with structural biologists and chemists, we have identified new compounds which we are testing for their ability to block tumour cell survival and spread to other sites in the body. These can then be used in clinical research to provide new treatment options for patients.

Repurposing of commonly used drugs as new cancer treatments

New drug development is a lengthy and resource-intensive process. It makes sense to reassess existing drugs for additional uses at the same time as researching new drug development. We are investigating the therapeutic value of a drug, already clinically approved to treat osteoporosis, as a novel treatment in gastric and colon cancers.

Interaction between the intestinal barrier and the microbiome

We are studying the effects of inflammatory disruption on the intestinal barrier in host-microbiome interaction and how this may contribute to the development of colon cancer. Our team is also exploring the mechanisms of the gut microbiota so that its metabolites may be reinstated following chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment in cancer patients.

Fast facts

When newly-developed novel compounds are first tested for anti-cancer capabilities using a range of biochemical and cell-based assays.

The body’s natural response to tissue damage, infection and disease.

Different cell types of the body produce pro-inflammatory cytokines as a way of causing inflammation to repair tissue and fight infection.

All the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material present in the intestinal tract. Mainly comprising bacteria, they play a key role in functions critical to our health.

Recent publications

EMBO Molecular Medicine

Repurposing the selective estrogen receptor modulator bazedoxifene to suppress gastrointestinal cancer growth.

DOI: 10.15252/emmm.201809539

View abstract
Seminars in Cancer Biology

Repurposing of drugs as STAT3 inhibitors for cancer therapy.

DOI: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2019.09.022

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Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Evaluating the benefits of renin-angiotensin system inhibitors as cancer treatments.

DOI: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2020.107527

View abstract

Our team

Meet our researchers