Functionally Applied Biology

Functionally Applied Biology

We aim to discover and apply fundamental understanding of the cancer microenvironment to develop laboratory models for testing new drugs and treatments with a better likelihood of translation to successful treatments for patients.

The current success rate for translating scientific discoveries made in labs into actual improvements in care for children with cancer is quite limited. One main challenge lies in the fact that the models used in labs for testing new treatments fail to accurately replicate real-life conditions. Our team is committed to unravelling the intricate connections between cancer cells and the surrounding cells and molecules in the body, exploring how this interaction influences cancer growth and response to treatment, with a particular focus on brain cancer.

Our notable achievements include understanding how the cell framework (cytoskeleton) facilitates cell movement and invasion through surrounding tissue and comprehending the dynamics of cell interactions with the tissue during this process. However, existing laboratory cancer models often fall short in replicating the invasion barriers that are present in surrounding tissue, thus neglecting key mechanisms that underpin the deadliest forms of cancer.

Our research has revealed that invasive brain cancer cells exhibit varied responses to the mechanical features of healthy brain tissue, and these responses can differ from patient to patient. Additionally, even slight variations in how cells react to physical forces can significantly impact the development of brain cancer. Armed with this information, we're developing advanced laboratory models to test cancer treatments, incorporating the latest breakthroughs in tissue engineering, cell biology, and biophysics.

We are using our advanced models to evaluate the effectiveness of the latest cancer treatments, including cutting-edge therapies like CAR T cell therapy, where patients' own immune cells are weaponized against their cancer. Through our research, we aim to accelerate the best and most promising treatments into clinical practice, ultimately enhancing care for children with cancer.

Prof Geraldine O'Neill

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Prof Geraldine O'Neill

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Biography
Functionally Applied Biology Scientific Program Leader
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More team members

  • Sam Bax - PhD candidate
  • Teah Goodhand -PhD candidate
  • Thuvarahan Jegathees - PhD candidate
  • Sam Du - Research Assistant
Last updated Tuesday 16th January 2024