Cancer Research at Bath


We are research active in a wide range of cancer-related projects, shown in this publications database, a small taste of which are described below.

Finding out why there is variation in European cancer survival rates

Cancer survival rates vary widely across Europe, and University of Bath researchers are finding out why.

Britain has poor cancer survival rates, and at least part of the reason is thought to be delay in diagnosis. To investigate this, University of Bath researchers set up the Örenäs Research Group, a research collaborative with members in 20 European countries.

One of its recent projects looked at where patients who may have cancer first go to seek help, and how that relates to the likelihood of surviving cancer. Another project is analysing the factors affecting GPs’ decisions to refer patients for further investigation. It uses surveys that analyse GPs’ decision-making and reasoning when faced with patients that could have early cancer.

Developing luminescent nanoparticles for cancer diagnosis

Researchers at Bath are developing probes for imaging and early detection of specific cancers, designing new luminescent nanoparticles which are tagged with antibodies which will take very specific action only on diseased tissues.

The probe developed by the research group emit NIR light which has superior tissue penetration, making them particularly useful for imaging and diagnosis of cancers in the alimentary tract and any other cancer types that are accessible via endoscopes.

The method developed at Bath is based on the principle of imaging-guided-therapy using extremely low doses of drugs. This could lead to the safe, extremely accurate, non-invasive and affordable early diagnosis of cancers, particularly those which are difficult to access.

This type of imaging has the potential to deliver diagnosis of cancers such as breast, colon and prostate.

Using daffodils to create cancer treatments

Researchers at Bath are exploring the use of natural compounds, including those obtained from daffodils called pancratistatin and narciclasine, for the treatment of cancer.

The natural products pancratistatin and narciclasine exhibit potent anti-cancer activities, however their availability is very limited so they cannot be obtained in sufficient quantities to be considered as drug candidates.

Currently, many steps are required to synthetically make these products and as a result they are unsuitable for further detailed biological evaluation and clinical development.

The research group at Bath has developed and published a synthetic methodology which it is now using to make new compounds which are closely related to pancratistatin and narciclasine in an efficient manner, whilst retaining their anticancer potency.

Using high-content microscopy to understand ERK

Signalling Researchers at Bath are using high-content microscopy to develop an understanding of the ERK signalling pathway, which is essential for normal cell function but becomes activated in an uncontrolled way in tumours. The work focuses on negative regulators of the pathway that are, paradoxically, often elevated in cancer cells.

Through using high-content microscopy techniques, the group has developed image-based readouts to monitor changes in ERK regulation at the single cell level. This is critical for understanding tumour development, where alterations in subpopulations of cells lead to catastrophic disease progression.

The high-content microscopy equipment is available for commercial use.

Understanding the challenges of survivorship

Psychologists at Bath are working with the Royal United Hospital to develop an understanding of the concerns and post-treatment requirements of cancer patients.

Until recently, treatment has been the focus of cancer care, however as survival rates increase attention is being turned to the psychological care of survivors as they adapt to life following cancer treatment.

The research team interviewed cancer survivors to determine four key themes most often experienced.

From developing an understanding of the key concerns and difficulties experienced by cancer survivors, the team has created a booklet that contains informational and emotional support to assist them in dealing with this new stage of their lives.

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