Targeted anti-cancer therapy with CDK4/6 inhibitors in oesophageal and breast cancer

A new class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors have recently revolutionised breast cancer treatment. They are considerably less toxic than other chemotherapy drugs and yet they can have remarkable effects on tumour growth.

This led to their fast-tracked approval in 2015 to treat a major subtype of breast cancer that accounts for 70% of cases (HR+/HER2-). Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are currently in a race to determine exactly which other cancer types could benefit from these drugs and what combination therapies might work the best (over 100 clinical trials ongoing).

This project will build on recent work by the Saurin lab which demonstrates that these drugs work by damaging the DNA in cancer cells. The student will investigate how this damage occurs, whether it can be exacerbated with secondary drugs, and what genetic features make tumour cells the most sensitive. The hope is that this type of information will allow this exciting new class of drugs to be used more effectively, for example, by better predicting which patients and tumour types will respond the best.