Making daily breakthroughs in cancer research is all in a day’s work for a Bradford University Professor whose focus on cancer metastasis is helping to fight back against the killer disease.
Mohamed El-Tanani has held positions in universities around the world, as his crusade to conquer cancer spans across all communities and lives.
His latest research programme, at the University of Bradford, strives for a better understanding of metastasis and thus has the potential to improve cancer patient survival and quality of life.
Metastasis is the complex process of the spreading of cancer from the original tumour to distant organs and is responsible for the majority of cancer deaths. Once cancer has spread, current treatments ultimately fail for most patients.
Researchers on Professor El-Tanani’s team at the University of Bradford have most recently discovered a way to prevent chemotherapy resistance in lung cancer by blocking a protein found in cancer cells.
Suppressing this protein, called Ran-GTP, also causes cancer cells already resistant to the first-line chemotherapy treatment, gefitinib, to become re-sensitised to the drug.
Speaking to the Asian Express, he said: “Cancer is a very complex disease. Our research doesn’t mark the end of lung and breast cancer but it’s another step towards understanding how it works and one of the ways it manages to become resistant to drugs we develop. We’re hopeful that our work could help to save lives.”
The question that always crops up when it comes to cancer research is whether there will ever be a cure for the disease.
“We may not have found a way to beat cancer yet,” said Professor El-Tanani, “but more researchers than ever are entering the field to help find a cure. I am sure one day we will cure most -if not all – cancer patients. This is only possible through research, and funding more research is crucial to achieving this.”
Professor El-Tanani said the fact is that around one in three people will still get cancer and that is what spurred him on to be a researcher in this area.
“There are very few people who aren’t touched by cancer in one way or another, and to know that you’re working in an area that has the potential to make the lives of so many people better is a big positive.”
He added: “This is one of the main reasons I chose to work in such a competitive career, in cancer research.”
The University of Bradford is seeking funding to put these drugs into clinical trial so that they can test this research.
Such trials cost a lot of money yet this is the only way they can bring new treatments to patients.
“I really hope that this work will help people suffering from cancer,” Professor El-Tanani said.
Catherine Pickworth, Cancer Research UK’s science information officer, said: “When cancer becomes resistant to chemotherapy it’s a lot harder to treat.
“Excitingly, [Professor El-Tanani’s work] has identified a potential target to stop or even reverse cancer resistance to a chemotherapy drug called gefitinib. Now more research and clinical trials are needed to find and test a drug that will help patients whose cancers have become resistant to chemotherapy.”