Metabolic Disorders and Cancer Research Centre

The Cancer and Metabolic Disorders Research Centre encompasses academics from across two Colleges at the University: the College of Science and Engineering, and the College of Psychology, Health, and Social Care. This multi-disciplinary approach to our research couples a highly molecular understanding of cancer, infection and chronic metabolic disease, whilst placing the individual at the centre of their health condition, in order to identify and apply new treatments and technologies in a fully holistic manner.  

Our aims

Our expertise sits across cancer, metabolism, forensic science and person-centred care, and these disciplines are explored with greater focus within our three research clusters. Ultimately, we all aim to improve outcomes for patients with cancer and other metabolic disorders, and our unique approaches are brought together within the research centre to build a better understanding of the individual and their healthcare. We enjoy working collaboratively and have strong links with the NHS, charities, and the pharmaceutical industry.  

Our research

Biomarkers of Adverse Clinical Outcome in Invasive Breast Cancer: Toward Personalised Management of Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and is the second leading cause of cancer related death in the UK, as well as worldwide. Despite advances in breast cancer screening, early detection and increased availability of therapeutic options, the mortality remains high with 20-30% of patients dying within 10 years of breast cancer diagnosis. Patients with breast cancer do not die of the primary tumour in their breast but rather from its spread to other body parts. By anticipating the occurrence of disease progression, proper measures could be pre-planned and cancer could accordingly be cured. Stringent allocation of patients into different risk groups currently relies on patient related and cancer related criteria, with the use of additional costly testing in a substantial number of patients.

For more than a decade of research and in collaboration with co-researchers, Senior Lecturer Mohammed Aleskandarany has used different molecular and histopathological techniques including digital pathology in determining which breast cancers are most aggressive, and which will be less aggressive and will potentially follow a favourable clinical course. 

In these studies, large of cohorts of breast cancer patients with long-term clinical follow-up, enrolled into ethically approved research studies, have been extensively studied. A diverse array of cutting-edge research methods have been carried out on archival tissues from these cancers. Different analytical methods, including the big-data analysis approaches, were utilised to identify and validate relevant criteria of potential utility in advancing our understanding of breast cancer progression and clinical management of breast cancer patients.

Investigating the genetics and epigenetic biomarkers associated with obesity and associated co-morbidities

Obesity plays an important role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Morbidly obese patients are at higher risk of T2DM, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and cardiovascular disease. Weight reduction is therefore a key intervention goal for people with obesity. Under the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, weight loss is achieved through the NHS Tiered Care Weight Management Pathway.

However, the profound weight loss and metabolic improvement observed after the weight loss treatment and surgery varies among the participants. In order to explain the key novel molecules involved in metabolic recovery following weight loss management Dr Aparna Duggirala's research aims to understand the role of genetic variations, epigenetic marks and metabolomic changes. 

The research projects include:

Join us

If you are interested in joining this research centre, want to find out more or are interested in applying for a PhD in this area, please contact Dr Elizabeth Marsh, Research Centre Lead or Dr Emma Hyde, Associate Professor, Deputy Centre Lead.


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