Dr Nick Plant in his office

Dr Nick Plant

Project details

Researcher: Dr Nick Plant

Location: University of Surrey, Guildford

Project title: Understanding the metabolism of breast cancer cells

Key area: Treatment

The challenge

Doctors currently classify different types of breast cancer based upon markers such as ER and HER2. However, not all people with the same type of breast cancer respond to treatments in the same way. Therefore we need to find new ways to classify different types of breast cancer to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate treatments for them, improving their chances of survival.

Project description

The metabolism of a cell refers to all the chemical reactions that occur inside it. The metabolism in cancer cells is different to that in normal cells, increasing their ability to multiply and survive. Dr Plant wants to understand how the metabolism of the cell changes in breast cancer. 

In this project, he will develop computer simulations representing the metabolism of the cancer cells from 2,000 breast tumours. This will enable him to group together different breast cancers depending on what parts of the cell’s metabolism have changed, which would be a new way of classifying breast cancer. Dr Plant will then be able to identify weak points in the metabolism of cells that could be targeted with drugs. These weak points will then be confirmed using breast cancer cells grown in the lab.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Plant’s research could lead to new ways to classify different types of breast cancer, based upon the metabolism of the cancer cells. This could lead to new ways to identify the most appropriate treatments for individual patients. Ultimately this could lead to new ways to treat people with breast cancer, improving their chances of survival.

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