Research within the Experimental Therapeutics Theme focuses on the development and evaluation of novel therapeutic candidates, particularly those with innovative modes of action. We have developed a particular interest in macromolecular therapeutic approaches including peptides, peptidomimetics and antibodies, and validated their application through in vitro and in vivo models of disease.
A strong emphasis within the theme is the discovery and development of therapeutic approaches to targeting tumour cells, in particular enhancing their response to both chemo- and radiotherapy. Molecular targets are identified through our basic research into metabolic pathways directly linked to cancer, and through international collaborations. These include the exploitation of abnormalities within the tumour microenvironment, such as the inefficient tumour vasculature and the subsequent hypoxia that arises as a result.
Furthermore, basic cell biology research within the theme has led to the discovery and characterisation of novel proteins with roles in angiogenesis/metastasis (FKBPL and Cathepsin S) making them attractive targets in terms of drug development. FKBPL also affects the response of breast cancer cells to endocrine therapies; the therapeutic and diagnostic implications of this are also being further explored.
Another key research area is the development of targeted nanoparticulate-based approaches. These include biomimetic and colloidal systems for the delivery of therapeutic transgenes (iNOS, which sensitises hypoxic tumour cells to radio- and chemotherapy), siRNAs/shRNAs and other drugs (front-line and experimental chemotherapeutics). Strategies combining chemical nanoparticle-based delivery protocols to targeted radiological treatments are also actively pursued. In addition to our interest in oncology, these targeted nanoparticulates are now being investigated for antibiotic delivery in pulmonary disease models.
We have focussed on research that is highly translational in nature that can be exploited for the treatment of human disease, with a view to improving health and/or wellbeing. Work carried out within this theme is sponsored by major research councils including MRC, EPSRC and BBSRC and cancer charities, such as Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign and the Prostate Cancer Charity. In collaborative partnerships with companies such as Almac Discovery and Fusion Antibodies Ltd., we have developed novel therapeutics to inhibit tumour angiogenesis/metastasis. The potential of these agents to target other pathological conditions associated with aberrant angiogenesis is also possible.