May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre will be posting a series of blog posts highlighting the contribution of Oxford researchers to global efforts to tackle Melanoma.

Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, and although it is more common in older people, it is relatively common in younger people. In 2015 about 16,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with melanoma, and within the last decade this number has increased by almost 50%. Over 2,500 of these people will develop advanced disease. Treatment of Advanced Melanoma has recently been transformed by introducing immunotherapies and targeted inhibitors in the treatment of patients who are not cured by surgery.

Oxford’s researchers have a broad range of scientific backgrounds and expertise, and are focused on trying to develop novel immunotherapies (such as innate immune stimulators and oncolytic viruses) to treat Melanoma. They are also interested in how the behaviour of melanoma cells can change under stress. Other scientists are working on better tests to predict who benefits from new treatments, like immunotherapy, and to identify who is likely to get side effects. One example of the type of projects Oxford researchers have been involved in is the early clinical development of the new drug IMCgp100, which has shown promise in treating Melanoma patients, whose cancer cannot be removed with surgery or has spread to other parts of the body.

Further efforts of the Oxford community are typified in the articles summarised below.
(Researcher spotlights will be listed here throughoyt May)

Prof Mark Middleton – Co-director of the Cancer research UK Oxford Centre & Head of the Department of Oncology.

An animated drawing of the DNA double helix on a background of DNA sequence (a, c, g, t)

Developing a system to simultaneously detect genetic and epigenetic information

Dr Benjamin Schuster-Böckler wins funding to develop algorithms that can identify both genetic variation and DNA methylation from the same sequencing data, with applications in biomedical research and detection of diseases such as cancer.

Finding extracellular vesicle biomarkers for oesophageal cancer early detection

Prof Deborah Goberdhan’s lab is investigating extracellular vesicles and the proteins they express as potential biomarkers for the progression from Barrett’s Oesophagus to oesophageal cancer

Detecting for multiple cancers in one simple test

Prof. Jason Davis is working alongside clinicians to introduce his biomarker assays into the clinic. Using a range of electroanalytical methods, together with electrode arrays and microfluidics, the platform has the potential to test for many types of cancers all at once, and at an earlier, pre-symptomatic stage.
A molecule of DNA with a radiating light representing mutation

Understanding how inherited and acquired mutations interact to affect cancer

Development fund awardee Gareth Bond is investigating how different types of genetic mutations cooperate to influence cancer risk, progression and response to therapy

Studying viral genetics to aid liver cancer early detection

Professor Ellie Barnes and Dr Azim Ansari receive funding to identify cancer-associated strains of hepatitis C in Pakistan to improve assessment of liver cancer risk
Christina Ye

Christina Ye awarded CRUK pre-doctoral fellowship

Christina Ye has been awarded CRUK pre-doctoral fellowship, she tells us about her upcoming project into T cell trafficking between the blood and skin when patients undergo checkpoint immunotherapy

Understanding how cancer arises from infected tissue

Dr Francesco Boccellato is investigating the mechanisms behind the pre-cancerous condition known as atrophic gastritis. This may help to identify those who may have cancer, as well as find new ways to prevent cancer from progressing

Detecting myeloma earlier

Several research projects are underway in Oxford focusing on different points in the clinical care pathway to improve myeloma early detection.
The NMR machine in the lab of James Larkins, with samples lined up to be analysed

Following the cancer metabolomic breadcrumb trail

By analysing the metabolic molecules that tumour cells leave behind, Dr James Larkin is investigating the applications of metabolomics in the early detection of many cancers.