Text Size

2018 Research Grants

Investigating the role of the aging bone marrow in the initiation and proliferation of acute myeloid leukaemia
 
Amount Funded: 
£80,151 (36 month PhD project start date: April 2019)  
 
Research Organisation: 
Norwich Medical School, Bob Champion Research and Education Building, UEA

Grant Applicants: 
Dr Stuart Rushworth
Professor Kristian Bowles (co-applicant)

Lay Summary of Research: 
Leukaemia is a cancer characterized by the accumulation of abnormal blood cells in the bone marrow. The leukaemia can be thought of as the ‘seed’ and the bone marrow microenvironment in which it grows as the ‘soil’, and both ‘seed’ and ‘soil’ are specifically adapted to promote leukaemia growth and chemotherapy resistance. This project will advance our understanding of how the bone marrow microenvironment promotes the survival and proliferation of abnormal leukaemia cells.
 
Specifically, we will study a disease called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), which is the commonest aggressive form of leukaemia in adults. AML is primarily a disease of the elderly. Moreover, not only is AML more common in older people, the prognosis is much worse for older patients than younger patients. In fact, even with current treatments, as many as 70% of patients 65 years or older will die of their disease within 1 year of diagnosis. While many patients can achieve a remission almost all will eventually relapse and die because of failure to eradicate the disease from the bone marrow.  AML is therefore more likely to develop in older bone marrow and furthermore, once started, is then particularly well adapted to progress in the older bone marrow microenvironment.  Therefore, this research will specifically investigate the contributing role of the aging bone marrow microenvironment to AML and particularly will address how this supports the growth and survival of this highly chemotherapy resistant disease.


_____________________________________________________________


Investigating the mechanisms of Fusobacterium nucleatum adaptation to the colorectal cancer tumour microenvironment

Amount Funded: 
£46,463 (9 month project start date April 2019)
 
Research Organisation: 
Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norwich Research Park

Grant Applicants: 
Professor Nathalie Juge
Arjan Narbad (co-applicant)


Lay Summary of Research: 
Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer and colon cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine). Some risk factors include diet (red and processed meat), obesity, smoking and lack of physical activity. In addition, increasing evidence links the gut microbiota (inhabiting the large intestine) with colorectal cancer. The bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum is a common inhabitant of both the oral cavity and the human gut and shown to be increased in the large intestine of patients with colon cancer. F. nucleatum is pathologically and clinically associated with cancer recurrence and patient outcome. Chemotherapy failure is the major cause of recurrence and poor prognosis in colorectal cancer patients. Although the mechanisms leading to F. nucleatum tumour development have been extensively studied, it is not known why F. nucleatum establish itself and proliferates in the local tumour environment in the first place.

_____________________________________________________________


The interplay of dietary polyphenols and gut microbiota in mammary tumourigenesis and metastasis

Amount Funded: 
Funding requested: £95,300 | Funding awarded: £94,300
(36 month PhD start date: Sept 2019)

 
Research Organisation: 
Norwich Medical School, UEA

Grant Applicants: 
Dr Stephen Robinson
Dr Lindsay Hall (QIB) (co-applicant)
Professor Cathie Martin (JIC) (co-applicant)
Professor Dylan Edwards (QIB) (co-applicant)


Lay Summary of Research: 
Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the UK and is a leading cause of cancer mortality.  Its incidence is rising, potentially due to increasing population age but also due to effects of diet and lifestyle.  Data from large-scale population studies indicate the benefits of diets rich in plant-derived polyphenolic compounds but experimental data on how these protective effects have been elusive. 
 
Recent work from the co-applicants Drs Lindsay Hall and Stephen Robinson have demonstrated a key role for the microbes that reside in our digestive systems (gut microbiota) in influencing the development of breast cancer in mice under experimental conditions.  They do this via effects on the immune system – essentially the gut microbes “educate” the immune system. 
 
Co-applicant Prof Cathie Martin has generated a suite of experimental tomato strains enriched for the production of specific molecules that are thought to be responsible for the health promoting properties of certain plants and the things we produce from them – eg, red and purple berries, red wine, soy etc.  Diets based on these enriched tomato lines have been shown to influence the gut microbiota ecosystem and reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.   


_____________________________________________________________


Shoulder to Shoulder: Walk and Talk

Amount Funded: 
Funding requested: £50,733.02 | Funding awarded: £46,733.02
(18 month project start date: 1 March 2019)


Research Organisation: 
School of Health Sciences, UEA

Grant Applicants: 
Dr Sarah Hanson
Dr Wendy Hardeman (co-applicant)
Professor Andy Jones (co-applicant)
Dr Charlotte Salter(co-applicant)


Lay Summary of Research:
Cancer, like many other health problems is more common in people who are less well off, have had less education and live in poorer areas. One of the reasons is that much information that is written to help people to get healthier is written by people like doctors or scientists, who might not always know how best to communicate things to those of us who don’t have their level of expertise. If we could work out ways to help everyone better understand how to stay healthy, more cancers could be prevented and managed better, and people would also have a much clearer idea of when it is important to go to a doctor with a problem.
 
Health information is often given in leaflets that are too long and difficult to understand. People are also often too embarrassed to ask for help – and many of us also don’t like talking about cancer. When we spent time with people we trust in a relaxed atmosphere it often becomes easier to talk about things that we sometimes feel difficult, such as concerns around our health. Walking groups are a way of way of getting some physical activity and we also know that they have many benefits to physical and mental health. This research will investigate whether a walking group could also be used as a way of talking about health and discussing topics that we know could prevent cancer. The idea of using walking groups in this way to promote health has not been tested before, so we will try it in this project.


_____________________________________________________________


High resolution and fast live time-lapse imaging of fluorescent-tagged proteins in cancer cells

Amount Funded: 
Funding requested: £20,121 | Funding awarded:  
50% (£10,060) of total cost to be offered subject to match funding being secured by the applicant.
Lilac Ladies (A fundraising group in support of Big C) to fund Big C’s 50%.


Research Organisation: 
School of Biological Sciences, UEA

Grant Applicants: 
Dr Mette Mogensen
Dr Paul Thomas (co-applicant)


Lay Summary of Research:
We need to understand how cancer cells migrate and spread in order to determine whether compounds such as sulforaphane, found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, can be used in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Live imaging of filaments in side cells that drive movement help us to understand the processes involved. This is especially so for our current study on the molecule Rap1GAP which acts on these filaments and inhibits the spread of cancer. Rap1GAP is decreased in many cancers allowing them to spread. Excitingly, our recent findings suggest that the compound sulforaphane can reverse this and increase the amount of Rap1GAP present in cancer cells thus reducing the spread of cancer. In order to receive very good quality live images of cancer cells we need a high resolution, sensitive and fast camera such as the requested Hamamatsu Orca-Flash 4.0 V3. In addition, a special software programme called Huygens would further enhance details in the acquired images. Our current camera is 15 years old and lacks the sensitivity and speed required for detailed live-imaging. The Hamamatsu Orca-Flash 4.0 V3 camera and “Huygens” deconvolution software would therefore greatly benefit our cancer research as well as that of others on the NRP.