This project will focus on developing a novel electrochemical tumour culture system to monitor reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) in primary and metastatic tumours in order to optimise new and existing cancer treatments for patients.
ROS/RNS are increased in cancer cells compared to normal cells and can promote proliferation and genomic changes to maintain an oncogenic phenotype. Cancers with a propensity to become metastatic have a progressive increase in ROS, contributing to tumour angiogenesis and metastasis. However, ROS/RNS can also induce cellular senescence, apoptosis and, in this capacity, are anti-tumourigenic. Furthermore, studies have shown that specific ROS/RNS can sensitise cancer cells to ROS-inducing chemotherapy agents. There are different types of ROS/RNS, which have variable in vivo half-lives and reactivity.
Due to the paradoxical role of ROS/RNS and limitations in current analytical techniques used to measure these species – for instance, approaches typically can only monitor one type of ROS/RNS, and are restricted to measurements over short timescales – little is known about how different amounts and types of ROS/RNS influence the state of the tumour and response to chemotherapy. Electroanalytical sensors are an attractive method to simultaneously monitor the production of a range of ROS/RNS over long timeframes from isolated tissues. Understanding how current cancer therapies alter ROS/RNS levels from ex vivo tumours, and how this affects the efficacy of treatment, will provide key insight into directing specific treatments for particular cancers.
Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) provided £221,728 in funding for this research project.