Professor Simak Ali
At Imperial College London, breast cancer expert Professor Simak Ali is leading a project with Professor Charles Coombes that aims to discover and develop new drugs for breast cancer. The pair are focussing their efforts on a molecule that’s a major player in fuelling most cases of breast cancer: the oestrogen receptor (ER).
In such cases, ER gets turned on by the hormone oestrogen, allowing it to go on to instruct the cell to grow. Because this process is so crucial for the development and progression of many breast cancers, scientists have developed drugs that are designed to block ER’s action. These are effective for many women, but unfortunately they can stop working so that the disease becomes harder to treat.
Professor Ali wants to find and test innovative ways to interfere with ER, by studying ER’s molecular partners. If successful, this important early work in the laboratory could ultimately lead to much-needed new treatments for women whose cancers have stopped responding to traditional ER-blocking drugs.