Once a tumour reaches a certain size, it must develop a blood supply in order to grow larger. Cancer cells secrete substances that promote the formation of new blood vessels, which feed the growing tumour - a process called angiogenesis. Interestingly, some tumours also secrete substances that inhibit angiogenesis. The project we are offering is aimed at evaluating complex sugars released from natural sources as potential inhibitors of tumour growth, utilising a glycomics and structural bioinformatics approach.
Glycomics, is a new and exciting area of biological research and scientists involved in it are in great demand in academia and industry. My research group here at the University of Salford, have recently been isolating sugars from many marine sources including shellfish and testing fragments of these sugars to identify those with the best anti-angiogenic properties. We have now identified a number of sugars that show great potential and are currently engaged in a process of rational drug design to predict how these sugars bind to the angiogenic factors secreted from cancers. This information will be used to design new drugs for the treatment of human cancer that mimic the activity of these complex sugars. The project offered will focus on exploring further the results and obtained to date, with a view to translating this information into a viable treatment for patients with cancer.
Further details: To date this project has resulted in a number of patent filings that represent an entirely new class of anticancer therapeutics. Some work can be carried out in San Diego (USA) if the student wishes.