Cancer Research Wales funding boosts efforts to fight Cancer at Bangor

The majority of people will have been affected directly or indirectly by cancer. Though curing cancer remains an enormous challenge, years of gradual progress have resulted in earlier diagnosis, improved treatments and increased survival times for many cancer patients. In most cases these advances have been achieved building on leads generated by understanding the mechanisms via which normal cells function, and how they go awry in cancer. 

This is exemplified by the development of PARP inhibitors, a novel class of cancer therapy used to treat ovarian and breast cancer patients with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Being born with these mutations can increase the lifetime probability of ovarian cancer development to near 100%, because BRCA1 and 2 normally function to repair broken DNA - an important tumour suppressive mechanism. In one of the most important experiments in modern cancer science, cell-based laboratory research revealed that the DNA repair defect present in BRCA-mutant cells is itself an Achilles heel that renders cancers susceptible to treatment with PARP inhibitors.

Researchers in Dr Chris Staples' newly-formed laboratory in the North West Cancer Research Institute (housed within the School of Medical Sciences) have identified a series of previously unstudied proteins that are very similar to BRCA1 and BRCA2, and are working hard to define exactly how these proteins work to repair DNA. Work in the Staples laboratory has been given another recent boost, having been granted a fully-funded PhD studentship from Cancer Research Wales to help further this research.  'I'm very thankful to CRWfor this funding' said Dr Staples, 'and I am pleased to have appointed Miss Fay Antonopoulou to the studentship, who came highly recommended from Jean-Christophe Bourdon's lab in Dundee, where she worked on the tumour suppressor p53'.

Publication date: 21 January 2019