Understanding drug resistance in bowel cancer
About Patrick Johnston
Professor Paddy Johnston is Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's University, Belfast and is an international leader in bowel cancer research. His team's cutting-edge work is investigating why some bowel cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy. This research will reveal new ways to overcome the problem of resistance and could save many lives in the future.
Understanding drug resistance
Professor Johnston's team were one of the first to identify the protein c-FLIP as a key player in drug resistance. They showed that c-FLIP stops bowel cancer cells dying in response to chemotherapy. The researchers are building on this exciting discovery by developing ways to block c-FLIP and make cancer cells more sensitive to drugs.
Searching for biomarkers
Professor Johnston is investigating whether c-FLIP can be used as a 'biomarker', a substance that doctors can measure to predict how well patients will respond to treatment. He is looking for other biomarkers by analysing tumour samples taken from bowel cancer patients treated with standard chemotherapy drugs.
Ultimately, doctors hope to use combinations of these biomarkers to help select the most appropriate drugs for individual patients. This research could have an important impact on the way that people with bowel cancer are monitored and treated.
Other research projects by Patrick Johnston
Identification and targeting of clinically relevant molecular and genetic subtypes in colorectal cancer (Supported by the Bobby Moore Fund for CRUK, from May 2014)
Funding period: 01 August 2012 to 31 July 2017