My research interests are centred on communication between normal and malignant cells, and the complex interactions within the tumour microenvironment.
In recent years, both tumour and normal cells have been shown to release extracellular vesicles: sub-cellular packages which are extremely heterogeneous in size and content. These have emerged as important mediators of horizontal transfer facilitating intercellular communication. Their potential to provide insights into the biology and physiology of their parent cell supports their use as biomarker reservoirs with diagnostic and prognostic potential.
Our research in leukaemia has shown that cells produce extracellular vesicles which can be detected, characterised and quantified in the plasma from bone marrow aspirates and detected in peripheral blood. Internalisation of EVs by non-malignant cells resulted in metabolic and phenotypic changes characteristic of a pro-tumorigenic environment. The potential role of vesicles in promoting cancer metastasis and progression through the modulation of normal cells is an exciting area of research.
Paediatric medulloblastoma is a disease where malignant cells must adapt and exploit the surrounding microenvironment and my research suggests that extracellular vesicles may play a significant role.
Cell culture: immortalised and primary derived cells and co-cultures
Microscopy: Immunofluorescence, time-lapse, TEM, gSTED
Flow cytometry and Imaging flow cytometry
Biochemical assays: western blotting, ELISA