Centre for Cancer & Inflammation
Our centre focuses on the links between cancer and inflammation. The overarching hypothesis that drives our research is that the inflammatory mediators and cells found in cancer are more likely to enhance than inhibit tumour progression; hence modulating these cells and mediators should be of therapeutic benefit.
Our aim is to translate our laboratory research in chronic inflammation and the tumour microenvironment into new treatments for cancer, especially ovarian and pancreatic cancer. We have been involved in several Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of cytokine antagonists and are currently planning other trials involving novel targets in the cancer microenvironment.
We also have a strong commitment to public engagement via the University's Centre of the Cell, an innovative and successful science centre and science outreach project for young people.
Group Leaders in the Centre
Dr Melania Capasso Honorary Lecturer
Dr Esther Castellano-Sanchez Early Career Researcher - Lecturer
Life in the Centre
Get a sense of what life is like for researchers in the Centre:
Results & Discoveries
Our recent discoveries and results include:
- The identification of CD4+ T cells as mediators of TNF-α’s action in human ovarian cancer and mouse ovarian cancer models
- Definition of a ‘TNF’ network in high-grade serous and clear cell carcinoma of the ovary. This network is subject to autocrine regulation in the malignant cells but has paracrine actions on angiogenesis and the leukocyte infiltrate.
- Study of one member of the TNF network, IL-6, as a therapeutic target in relapsed high grade serous and clear cell carcinoma of the ovary with a Phase II clinical trial, a range of pre-clinical studies and pharmacodynamic study of plasma samples from the trial patients.
- Demonstrating how NF-κB orchestrates the tumor promoting phenotype of TAMs and how these cells can be reeducated.
- Demonstrating for the first time the therapeutic potential of macrophage plasticity.
- Demonstrating the functions for proton channels in B cells and demonstrated the importance of ROS in BCR signaling and downstream metabolism.
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Professor Fran Balkwill's team a €2.43million grant for a project that aims to revolutionise the field of cancer cell research: using bioengineering techniques to grow the first complex 3D human tumour in the laboratory.
News and links to further information about the project:
- Fran speaks to BBC Radio London about the CanBuild project
- CanBuild featured in Guardian Science and on the Cancer Research UK Science Update Blog
- June 2016: CanBuild will be at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition - and you can follow on Twitter!
- 2013: A video about the CanBuild project featuring BCI and Blizard Institute researchers has been produced in collaboration with QMUL and Angel Eye Media:
- April 2013: CANBUILD grant award announced