Preventing and treating bowel cancer
Professor Chris Paraskeva is an international expert in bowel cancer. He leads the Cancer Research UK Colorectal Tumour Biology Research Group at the University of Bristol. His team is looking into many different aspects of bowel cancer including new ways to both prevent and treat the disease.
There is strong evidence to suggest that drugs such as aspirin can help to prevent bowel cancer. Professor Paraskeva is investigating how aspirin and other related drugs (collectively known as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - NSAIDs) bring about this protective effect. NSAIDs have been shown to block the production of molecules called prostaglandins, so the team are looking specifically at how prostaglandins are involved in bowel cancer development.
Professor Paraskeva is also studying the protective effect of parts of our diet such as fibre and vitamins, which are thought to play a role in helping to prevent bowel cancer.
Developing new treatments
Professor Paraskeva and his team are also investigating new treatments for bowel cancer. One of their aims is to identify important proteins in bowel cancer cells that can be targeted with new drugs. Using fluorescent dyes, the researchers can identify proteins that are overproduced in cancer cells compared to healthy cells. Using this approach, they have already identified a protein called EP4 as a key player in bowel cancer cells and therefore a potential target for new drugs.
The group is also studying a protein called Bag-1 that is found in large quantities in pre-cancerous growths in the bowel and in early stages of bowel cancer. It appears that Bag-1 prevents cancer cells from dying. The team are currently looking at whether Bag-1's activity or production can be blocked using drugs. If so, this may be an effective approach to treat and maybe even prevent bowel cancer in the future.
Other research projects by Chris Paraskeva
Funding period: 01 January 2011 to 31 December 2015