Developing new cancer treatments
Paterson Institute for Cancer Research
University of Manchester
Tel: 0161 446 3036
About Caroline Dive
Professor Caroline Dive leads the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group at the Cancer Research UK Paterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester. Her team carry out lab studies and early clinical research into new cancer drugs. Professor Dive also carries out important research into drug resistance in bowel cancer.
Watch a short interview with Professor Dive, talking about her research into detecting stray cancer cells in the blood, and how she and her team are using them to find out how well new cancer treatments are working:
The Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group
Before any new treatment becomes widely available, it must undergo rigorous testing both in the lab and in clinical trials. For example, scientists need to work out what dose of a drug should be given and how it will be processed by the body. When drugs enter early-phase clinical trials, researchers must also check whether they work in the way they should.
Professor Dive's team develop and carry out these types of tests for new cancer drugs. They work closely with the Derek Crowther Trials Unit at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, where clinical testing is carried out.
New cancer drugs
Researchers in her team are working on several new cancer drugs. One of these drugs targets a protein called XIAP. Cancer cells can sometimes make too much XIAP and become resistant to treatment. This new drug has been designed to overcome this resistance by blocking the action of XIAP.
Professor Dive's group also work on a drug called RH1. This drug is given to patients in an inactive form that can only be activated by cells containing the protein DT-diaphorase (DTD). Many types of cancer cells produce higher levels of DTD than normal cells so this approach will hopefully limit the damage caused to tissue surrounding the tumour and therefore reduce the side-effects of the treatment.
Working to improve 'drug development'
Professor Dive and her team are also keen to improve the overall process of getting a drug from the lab into clinical use for cancer patients.
They are currently testing new ways to measure the success of cancer drugs including methods to record the number of cells dying in response to treatment. They are also looking for protein 'biomarkers' in cancer cells that can provide an indication of how well a new treatment is working.
Importantly, Professor Dive is also looking at how cancer drugs developed for adults can be tested and used against childhood cancers. This could have a major impact on the treatments that become available in the future for children with cancer.
Drug resistance in bowel cancer
Professor Dive is investigating different ways in which bowel cancer cells can become resistant to drugs. She is particularly interested in how low oxygen levels in tumours can protect cells against the damaging effects of chemotherapy drugs and has shown that proteins regulating cell death are altered in response to low levels of oxygen. This work may lead to the development of new treatments designed to overcome the problem of drug resistance in bowel cancer.
Professor Dive and her team in Manchester are making excellent progress in the field of drug development. Their work will undoubtedly lead to new cancer treatments becoming available to many patients in the future.
Listen to an audio package about translational research, featuring Professor Dive talking about her work:
Other research projects by Caroline Dive
Fit-for-purpose biomarker method validation in anticancer drug development
Drug Discov Today.2010;15 :816-825
Fit-for-purpose biomarker method validation for application in clinical trials of anticancer drugs
Br J Cancer.2010;103 :1313-1317