After pitching his research to a panel of experts, Dr. Stephen Royle, Associate Professor at Warwick’s Medical School, has been awarded the Cancer Research UK Pioneer Award and subsequently received £158,000. This money will go towards funding ground-breaking research into brain tumours which is currently being conducted at the university.
Dr Royle’s research uses highly powered microscopes at the Medical School’s Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology to probe cancer cells in order to discover why certain cells divide incorrectly. Normally when cells divide, the chromosomes, which contain a cell’s DNA, are split equally forming two daughter cells. If the cell division goes correctly, these cells are exact copies of the original cell. However, as Dr Royle explains “In 90 per cent of solid cancers and 50 per cent of blood cancers, the cancer cells have unequal numbers of chromosomes.” It is not clear why cells sometimes divide incorrectly and become cancerous, but the research from the university aims to answer this question.
Dr Royle’s research uses highly powered microscopes at the Medical School’s Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology to probe cancer cells in order to discover why certain cells divide incorrectly.
The group also hopes that it can develop drugs which are able to control or prevent this unequal cell division, which could possibly even prevent tumours forming. If this were possible, the division could potentially be managed and used to force the cancerous cells to destroy themselves.
The research is certainly exciting, especially since it is being completed so close to home and has massive implications in the field of cancer research. Dr Jess Sutcliffe, Research Funding Manager at Cancer Research UK says that “research like Dr Royle’s is vital to increasing our understanding of cancer cell biology, in particular how cells divide and how if they do so incorrectly, it can lead to cancer. By carrying out research like this, scientists can look for and identify potential new ways to treat cancer and help more people survive the disease.” The progress that is made here at Warwick could change the way cancer is treated by developing innovative techniques and drugs. It will be interesting to see the results of this research over the next couple of years.