OCDEM’s Kate Lines awarded 3-year Celgene Fellowship

Kate Lines studied for a BSc in Biochemistry at Liverpool University, then a PhD in Molecular Oncology at the Barts Cancer Institute. During her PhD, Kate studied the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas. Kate has been a postdoctoral research scientist in Rajesh Thakker’s laboratory (Academic Endocrine Unit) in OCDEM for 7 years, studying epigenetic mechanisms in pancreatic and pituitary neuroendocrine tumours and was recently awarded a 3-year Celgene Fellowship to investigate novel therapeutic strategies for this disease.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours occur in pancreatic endocrine cells. These tumours can secrete hormones such as insulin and gastrin, and therefore can have significant endocrine morbidities, as well as the mortality associated with tumour development. There are currently limited effective treatments available for these patients, with the result being poor prognosis and a significant need to develop novel therapeutic strategies. The preferred first line treatment is surgery; however, this is not possible for all, especially those with multiple endocrine neoplasia type one (MEN1) who develop multiple tumours simultaneously. In addition, current chemotherapy approaches are often ineffective.

Kate’s research focuses on understanding the epigenetic mechanisms, particularly histone modifications, of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours. Kate plans to identify novel compounds (and combinations thereof) that can target the altered epigenetic states of these tumours and develop novel medical treatments that will not only benefit patients who cannot undergo surgery, but may also provide a non-surgical option for patients with less aggressive tumours. Kate will be working closely with the Structural Genomics Consortium (Chas Bountra) in Oxford and Celgene for drug development and access, Medical University of Vienna (Dr Andreas Selberherr), Imperial College London (Prof Andrea Frillingand Oxford Hepatobilary and Pancreatic Surgery Department (Mr Zahir Soonawalla) for access to patient samples.

This research will be funded by the Oxford-Celgene fellowship. This fellowship provides a perfect opportunity to combine the expertise of both academia and industry. Through this collaboration Kate will have access to Celgene’s compound library, and state-of-the-art equipment for use with in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo pancreatic neuroendocrine models.

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