I teach on the MSc in Biomedical Sciences course from data analysis to medical biochemistry. I also teach on the BMS BSc course.
I consider my research background as cell biologist and biochemist, with my research interests centering on exploring the potential of extracellular vesicles (EVs), particularly exosomes, as a possible source of biomarkers for disease.
Exosomes are nanometre sized vesicles formed in the endocytic pathway within multivesicular bodies (MVBs). Upon fusion of the MVB with the cell membrane the exosomes contained within are released into the extracellular environment. These exosomes contain proteins, mRNA, miRNA and DNA from the secreting cell and are often enriched with proteins associated with disease, inflammation, and/or cellular stress. This makes them a potential source of multiple biomarkers for diseases, which can be obtained by minimally invasive means (from biofluids such as plasma and urine).
Exosomes as biomarkers for disease (2006-2010; 2013-present)
My most recent work has involved developing methods for the isolation of EVs from biological fluids and standardising their analysis for quality assurance. Once the isolation methodologies were optimised the proteome of these biofluid-derived EVs (plasma, urine and cerebrospinal fluid) were examined using a novel aptamer based protein arrays and analysed in silico through the use of the statistics package R. These methodologies have been used in the context of prostate cancer and multiple sclerosis biomarker discovery pilot studies. These two projects have shown the potential of both novel isolation methods for exosomes and protein analysis have the potential to identify novel disease biomarkers in follow-up studies.
Immunology Research (2011-2013)
Previous research has looked at the phenotype of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and plasma pro-inflammatory cytokines with respect to the acute phase response (APR) of osteoporosis patients and breast cancer patients undergoing aminobisphosphonate (nBP) treatment. We identified that peripheral γδ T cells and Monocytes became rapidly activated and ultimately determines the clinical severity of the APR in nBP naïve osteoporosis patients. The findings of this study may have diagnostic and prognostic implications for patients with and without malignancy as well as relevance for Vγ9/Vδ2 T-cell based immunotherapy. We also undertook a comprehensive meta-analysis of 15 randomized clinical trials patients on adjuvant therapy for breast cancer with zoledronate, identifying a significant overall survival benefit with zoledronate treatment. These new findings supported the call for zoledronate to be considered as a new standard of care in adjuvant breast cancer therapy.