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UK and Chinese universities fight cancer together

A deadly cancer which mainly occurs in China could be more effectively treated, thanks to joint research by the University of Warwick and Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Centre (SYSUCC).

Researchers at Warwick’s Department of Chemistry are collaborating with biologists at SYSUCC to effectively target nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) – a cancer of the head and neck - which is extremely prevalent in China.lab1

Biologists from SYSUCC have identified how to specifically target nasopharyngeal cancer cells, and chemists from Warwick have produced the cutting-edge medicine with which to target them, leaving healthy cells unharmed.

A peptide molecule, which is recognised by cancer cells, has been discovered at SYSUCC; chemists at Warwick are developing precious metal compounds, which can be attached to these molecules to treat the cancer cells.

Essentially, the biologists have identified a transportation method to the cancer cells, and the chemists have produced the precious cargo.

The University of Warwick and Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Centre are international partners, with experts from each institution regularly visiting the other, mutually transferring scientific and cultural knowledge.

For the past two years, Isolda Romero-Canelon has travelled to China with PhD students to bring the expertise of her research group to the SYSUCC labs.

Isolda comments that exchanging expertise between the two institutions will speed up treatment for cancer:

“Working with SYSUCC is a great opportunity. We have fantastic shared expertise and the exchange will allow us to quickly progress in the development of novel approaches for the treatment of NPC.”

Now, researchers from SYSUCC are in turn bringing their knowledge to Warwick, like Qian Wang, who has spent six weeks on the campus.

chem_05.jpgQian Wang says that she has enjoyed living and working at Warwick:

“I am grateful for this opportunity to go to the University of Warwick. I love the beautiful surroundings and passionate friends here. At the same time, I’ve come to a new field of Chemistry. I feel really interested in combining organometallic agent with tumour-targeting peptide. I hope to have further cooperation with Isolda and Warwick.”

This joint research project further strengthens the ties between the University of Warwick and SYSUCC, as well as between the UK and China.

Warwick signed a collaborative agreement with SYSUCC in October 2015, establishing a research partnership in cancer diagnosis, treatment and specialist cancer care.

Lawrence Young, Vice-President at the University of Warwick with overall responsibility for the University’s engagement with China, has worked on NPC for over 30 years.

He says, "It is very exciting to bring together multidisciplinary expertise across the two universities to tackle this deadly tumour. The lessons we are learning could also be applied to cancers that are more common in the West".

13th September 2016

Further information, contact:

Luke Walton, International Press Officer

L dot Walton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk

02476 150 868

07824 540 863