• Epigenetics and cell fate transitions

    Discovering how to prevent cancer before it starts
    Our Research
  • Developmental reversion

    If not mutations in the DNA, what causes cancer? What is cancer in fact?


Homepage research

We are interested in preventing cancer before it starts.

Cancer is often considered to be an umbrella term for hundreds of different diseases, characterised in general by uncontrolled cell growth cause by genetic damage within those cells. Although ageing tissues commonly harbour many clonal DNA mutations, only a fraction of people develop cancers. We therefore need to understand what are the molecular events that precede and trigger cancer formation beyond DNA mutations.

Our lab follows a view that there are a small number of consistent factors that underlie the majority of cancers, but that these factors occur very early in the disease process. We suspect that the transition from healthy cells to the very first cancerous cell is where much of the exciting science happens. If true, these ideas could utterly change our perspective on the single biggest killer in mankind.

We follow a multi tissue approach, and our working model is that tissues de-differentiate before the primordial cancer cell is born. We use embryonic stem cells as a paradigm in cellular transformation and interaction with the immune system. We also use human ageing tissues, from our tissue banks, to test our hypotheses, and ex-vivo organoid systems to study the cell state control and loss of identity.

The ultimate aim is to develop drugs that can prevent cancer cells forming in the first place.


Lab Members