We are using mouse models of human cancers including colorectal, breast and liver cancers to look at genes and proteins that promote cancer development. By identifying these, we can develop new drugs to block their function and assess their effects on tumour growth and spread in the most appropriate cancer models. We also use this information to develop nanoparticles (tiny particles around 1 billionth of a metre in size) which can be engineered to deliver drugs specifically to tumours. These nano-drug carriers can deliver drugs directly to a tumour by homing to a tumour-specific marker. Drug release can then be triggered at the tumour site using an external, localised energy source such as ultrasound, thereby sparing healthy tissues from the effects of the drug and minimising unwanted side-effects.
Animal welfare - We use a range of non-invasive imaging techniques on live mice, similar to those used in humans, including ultrasound and MRI, to accurately determine the size and location of tumours. This permits the use of fewer animals and gives a more accurate assessment of tumour burden in vivo allowing us to limit animal suffering as well as providing more relevant and useful data for experimental analysis.
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