I’m happy to report that Monday 29 June marks the beginning of our phased return to our labs.
Just before we closed the labs we were lucky enough to get back a very significant amount of data on patient samples of primary breast cancer. To give you an idea of how large the data set is, we have over 50,000 lines of data, with each line being part of a biomolecule (gene, protein, etc) – and that’s just for one sample!
Dr. Elly Tyler, a post-doctoral researcher in my team, has been busy analysing this dataset and has made some interesting associations between the type of environment a tumour builds for itself and how our immune system might respond to it. We will be testing out some of Elly’s ideas on our 3D models once facilities are back up and functioning over the next month or so.
We have been busy presenting and brainstorming our ideas with the science community. In particular, we had a virtual meeting with one of our collaborators, Prof. Tom Wight, who is director of matrix biology at the Benaroya Institute, Seattle, Washington. Both our groups met virtually to share ideas around how we can target the tumour microenvironment to improve therapy response. It was a very productive meeting and with Against Breast Cancer’s support, we hope to send PhD student Priyanka Hirani to Tom’s lab hopefully in the summer next year.
Whilst most of us have been working from home, Valentine Gauthier, a PhD student in our team, has continued to work in the lab. Valentine is using cutting edge gene editing technology called CRISPR, to make edited cells that we will use for functional experiments that will help us work out which molecules might be best to target to improve our immune systems response to cancer.
We have been writing articles on our ideas that we will be submitting for publication in the next few weeks. This includes a research article where we will present our 3D tumour model that we have developed, and a review/concept piece to share with the community on how we think our bodies immune response can be improved to kill cancer.
“Thank you from the whole lab for your continued support of our work.”
Dr Oliver Pearce