A project aimed at gaining a better understanding of drugs used in cancer treatment has been awarded £4.5m in funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
The work will be undertaken by scientists at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in partnership with King’s College London. The project is intended to assess a class of receptor molecules in the hope of improving the cost and effectiveness of cancer treatment.
Scientists plan to use a laser cluster alongside powerful microscopes in order to light up several molecules of the drug simultaneously. The individual behaviour of the proteins will then be input into a computer in order to examine how interactions with drugs influence the molecular processes.
This is intended to create a network model that is representative of all receptor-associated molecular activity. The aim is to classify patients according to characteristics of their protein interactive so that an informed judgement can be made on the effectiveness of a drug on a particular patient.
Leading the project, Peter Parker, head of the division of Cancer Studies at King’s College London, said: ‘The new targeted therapeutics in cancer promise a great deal in the clinic. However, on an individual-patient basis, we are a long way from knowing exactly who will benefit and who will not.
‘Understanding how particular drug targets behave at a fundamental molecular level and ultimately developing ways of monitoring this behaviour in tumours will have an enormous impact on the personalised medicine agenda,’ he added.