University of Nottingham: New research will explore treatments for bile duct cancer

Experts at the University of Nottingham will investigate possible treatments for cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) as part of a new collaboration with the AMMF, the UK’s only cholangiocarcinoma charity.

Cholangiocarcinoma, is a particularly deadly disease with limited treatment options, and so new treatments are urgently needed. As part of a new collaboration, AMMF will support PhD student Grace Martin from the University’s School of Medicine, along with her supervisor Dr Sheela Jayaraman, to investigate new treatments for the disease.

The project is based on the finding that specific proteins known as transcription factors are higher in cholangiocarcinoma and are responsible for driving tumour growth and tumour invasion. As part of the new research, Grace will explore new ways to decrease the amount of these proteins in the tumour.

Grace Martin
In addition, Grace will investigate how these proteins change even before the tumour is detected, in specific inflammatory conditions. Grace and Dr Jayaraman join a larger cohort of experts and clinicians working on cholangiocarcinoma in the School of Medicine. The larger team are working towards building a centre of expertise for research into this cancer.

Grace said “I am grateful to get the opportunity to work on this exciting new project. The research will provide world-leading knowledge on cholangiocarcinoma biology, which will help lead to the discovery of novel drug targets for cholangiocarcinoma. I will collaborate with experts across multiple medicine disciplines and have access to the most innovative technologies and outstanding science. To study in such an exceptional work environment here at Nottingham University is a pleasure; I am excited for my future here as part of the team at the BioDiscovery Institute, and beyond!’’

Dr Jayaraman said “I am delighted we have received this funding to investigate new strategies for the inhibition of bile duct cancer growth. This studentship will allow my laboratory to take forward our results identifying PRH as a new factor that promotes the growth of bile duct tumours and our data showing that there are new vulnerabilities in the tumour cells that can be targeted as a consequence of high PRH activity.”

Dr Sheela Jayaramen
Helen Morement, CEO of AMMF, said: “This is potentially very exciting. With increasing incidence globally, mortality parallel with that incidence and no improvement in survival for decades, cholangiocarcinoma is an under-researched, much neglected, truly devastating disease. We are delighted, therefore, to be able to support Grace and Dr Jayaraman at the School of Medicine in Nottingham in this work and hope that the results of their research will prove to be a real step forward in not only better understanding cholangiocarcinoma, but also towards some long awaited possible improvements in treatment.”

This work will be carried out at the University’s Centre for Cancer Sciences, which opened in September 2019. The Centre for Cancer Sciences focuses on the University’s research strengths in investigating how tumours interact with their surroundings, including cancer immunology, the way in which cancer spreads throughout the body, and how tumours fight back against anti-cancer treatments.

The Centre offers brand new state-of-the-art laboratories, research equipment and facilities within a new extension to the University’s existing BioDiscovery Institute on its University Park campus.

The Cancer Centre is also a base for the University of Nottingham’s innovative Cancer Sciences degree programme which welcomed forty new students into their first year in 2020, double the number recruited in 2019. The Cancer Sciences course is the first course of its kind to offer a biomedical science degree with a focus on cancer from day one.