A Leamington scientist has been awarded £194,000 from Cancer Research UK for a pioneering project which aims to find out if electrically stimulating cancer cells could find new ways to fight tumours.
It is hoped the research, carried out by Professor Orkun Soyer at the University of Warwick, will lead to the development of new technologies for cancer treatment.
Prof Soyer said: “What we’re proposing has never been done before so we’re very excited about it.
“It’s fantastic to see Cancer Research UK funding a project outside the normal field of cancer studies and one which we hope will create a completely new avenue of research.”
Prof Soyer and his team will investigate how to interfere with the way cancer cells make and use energy – their metabolism.
Compared to healthy cells, cancer cells have been shown to have abnormal metabolism, so the researchers hope to curb their growth by ‘resetting’ the cells in a lab using tiny electrodes and chemicals.
If successful, the project could kick start an entirely new field of research into cancer.
Jess Sutcliffe, Cancer Research UK’s Research funding manager, said: “Understanding the specific differences between cancer and healthy cell metabolism, and how to effectively target it, could form the basis of powerful new treatments.
“Even though there is vast interest, researchers have barely scratched the surface of how cancer metabolism can be understood and manipulated.
“For the first time, this pioneering research will test the idea that cancer’s metabolic shifts can be understood in terms of physics. We hope it will lead to a new way of understanding and controlling cancerous growth.”