We are working on a world-first approach to combat cancer through exploiting the molecular changes that occur in the liver due to obesity. Over-nutrition results in the accumulation of fat within organs such as the liver, leading to inflammation, scarring and ultimately cancer. Our research aims to understand how metabolism impacts the immune response to cancer, and exploit that knowledge to develop ways of helping the body fight cancer cells.Our basic research is interdisciplinary and has the potential to be translated into drug trials in humans.
- Western type diets (high fat, high sugar, high cholesterol) can change the gut microbiota and this can lead to tissue inflammation. We are defining the gut microbes that are protective and those that are the risk factors for cirrhosis and cancer.
- We are working to understand which microbes in the gut can induce an immune response that is protective against cancer. This will lead to the trial of drugs that mimic this protective effect. This is called immunotherapy.
- We have found that the behaviour of immune cells is modulated by their access to nutrients, especially glucose. Cancer cells use glucose and prevent glucose consumption by immune cells, preventing them from fighting cancer cells. We have designed nanoparticles that can deliver glucose to immune cells in tumour tissue and thus help them to eliminate cancer cells.