Our research focus

Isolation and characterisation of circulating tumour cells

Liquid biopsies, which capture circulating tumour cells in the blood, are a useful, non-invasive way of monitoring tumour spread and drug response. Our laboratory studies the diversity and biological properties of cancer cells captured in blood. This helps improve the diagnosis of patients, predict drug response and, in the longer term, develop cancer treatments personalised to a patient’s specific cancer.  

Follow tumour progression using cellular tracking

Each cell collected from a patient’s tumour can be labelled with tags or ‘barcodes’, allowing us to determine which subpopulations of cells in the tumour contribute to metastasis, organ specificity and drug-resistance. We are particularly interested in the effect of different microenvironments or ‘niches’ on the survival of cancer cells and the progression of disease.

Test new drugs in advanced models of metastatic breast cancer

Our laboratory is interested in developing ways to test the effect of various drugs on the survival of circulating tumour cells or metastasis. In particular, we focus on testing the effect of new targeted therapies on metastatic progression.

Fast facts

Some cancer cells have the ability to spread in the body. They can invade locally to nearby lymph nodes, to the vasculature and distant organs. This process is called metastasis. The mechanisms by which cells are able to adapt to different microenvironment are still unknown, but it appears that only a few cells from a tumour will successfully grow in distant organs and cause symptoms.

Different tumour cells in a tumour can show distinct phenotypic profiles such as gene expression, proliferation, and metastatic potential.

Drugs which specifically block the proliferation, survival or invasiveness of cancer cells, by targeting specific cellular pathways.

Recent publications

Cancer Cell

BH3-Mimetic Drugs: Blazing the Trail for New Cancer Medicines.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.11.004

View abstract
Nature Communications

Barcoding reveals complex clonal behavior in patient-derived xenografts of metastatic triple negative breast cancer.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08595-2

View abstract
Science Translational Medicine

Synergistic action of the MCL-1 inhibitor S63845 with current therapies in preclinical models of triple-negative and HER2-amplified breast cancer.

DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aam7049

View abstract

Our team

Meet our researchers