Cargo and delivery of extracellular vesicles
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small cargo-carrying vesicles that can be released by cells into the extracellular space. For many years it was thought that EVs were simply a route by which cells removed unwanted material, but it is now realised that they have a range of important functional roles and are part of the molecular dialogue that cells use to communicate. We are investigating how EVs are taken up by cells and how they are able to cause changes to the recipient cells.
Extracellular vesicles as mediators of intercellular stress response
Cells that have been stressed release factors that signal to neighbouring cells. These factors can be taken up by nearby cells triggering the appearance of DNA damage. Together with our collaborator, Prof Munira Kadhim, we have shown that extracellular vesicles are responsible for this so called "bystander effect". We now wish to characterise the contents of these vesicles and understand the mechanisms by which they can induce DNA damage in neighbouring cells.
The role of miRNAs and extracellular vesicles in regulating drug resistance in cancer
Many forms of cancer can be treated with cytotoxic drugs. Such treatment is often successful in the first instance, but the cancer usually evolves and often returns as a drug resistant tumour. We are interested in characterising the changes in miRNA expression and extracellular vesicle function that occur as cancer cells acquire drug resistance. More importantly we want to test whether perturbing miRNAs or modifying vesicles can induce or reverse the resistance to cytotoxic drugs such as cisplatin.