The group, led by Dr Stewart Martin, consists of postdoctoral scientists, a senior research technician and PhD students and has 3 main research projects that are being investigated:
1. An investigation of the cellular and molecular control of lymphatic invasion and metastasis
This is a cell and molecular pathology based project and is currently progressing in two areas:
A) a histopathology and molecular characterisation of the genes and proteins regulating blood vascular and lymphatic invasion, and
B) investigating the molecular control of tumour cell (primarily breast cancer and melanoma) invasion, migration, and adhesion to, and intravasation across, vascular and lymphendothelium.
The group has published a number papers on this topic and are continuing a cellular and molecular investigation along with their histopathology based studies.
One area if particular interest is the role that the calpain system of proteases (and the endogenous inhibitor, calpastatin) play in regulating metastasis. The research team have recent data suggesting that this family of proteins may also play a role in regulating therapeutic response (to radiation and chemotherapy) and are pursuing this using a variety of cell and molecular approaches (novel drug inhibitor & radiation interactions, shRNA etc).
2) Investigating, and targeting, cellular redox systems in cancer (with a focus on the thioredoxin (Trx) system) – breast, ovarian and upperGI cancers
The team is interested in how redox proteins control cellular behaviour/phenotype (vascular endothelial, lymphatic and cancer cells) and how their modulation might impact response to conventional agents (particularly radiotherapy but also chemotherapy). Research also investigates the role the Trx system plays in regulating cell migration and adhesion. The group have numerous publications in this area for interested parties to read.
3) Predicting and improving radiotherapy outcome in cancer
This project investigates (primarily in breast cancer but also other tumour sites), using gene expression profiling (i.e. gene expression microarrays) and tissue microarray approaches (i.e. immunohistochemistry/ histopathology), the genes and proteins involved in regulating recurrence, and overall survival, in cancers treated by radiotherapy.
The group have, via funding obtained from the Wellcome Trust, a radiation research facility (run as a centrally bookable facility within the University of Nottingham ), and so can complement clinical/translational studies with mechanistic in-vitro based laboratory investigations.
The project investigates ways to alter radiosensitivity via novel drug-radiation actions, and examines cellular responses to radiotherapy (e.g. investigating the biology behind radiotherapeutic response of basal/triple negative v luminal breast cancer etc). A variety of novel techniques, including 3D tissue culture and co-culture models, are used – the group are particularly interested in how cross-talk between stromal cells and tumour cells can influence radioresponse.