New project – increasing sensitivity to radio- and chemotherapy in adenoid cystic carcinoma

Oracle to support much needed research in rare form of head and neck cancer

Arturo Sala (left), Professor of Translational Cancer Biology at Brunel University London is the latest successful applicant to win the approval of Oracles Research Advisory Committee and will receive funding for a PhD studentship starting later this year.

The full scientific title of the project is ‘The role of a novel MYB > (ATR-ATM-BUB1) axis in adenoid cystic carcinoma: therapeutic implications’.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a rare type of head and neck caner arising in the salivary glands. It is characterised by slow but relentless growth.  Unfortunately, the 15-year survival rate is low at 40%. ACC often reoccurs, spreads to the lungs and perineural space (the space surrounding a nerve) and becomes resistant to radio and chemotherapy, leaving few treatment options available.

This research will investigate the role of a gene, MYB, that is frequently altered in ACC and thought to be a cause of radio and chemo-resistance. Researchers will test whether disruption of activity associated with the gene could therefore cause enhanced sensitivity of cancer cells to radiation and/or chemotherapy, with the ultimate objective of improving treatment and survival of cancer patients.

This will be done using small molecules already in clinical use. Arturo estimates that clinical trials could be started immediately after the completion of this project! He says;

"In this project we will use small molecule inhibitors targeting key cancer enzymes to sensitize ACC cells isolated from patients to radio- and chemotherapy"

MYB is activated not only ACC, but also in blood malignancies such as leukaemia and lymphoma. Therefore, this work has the potential to have a wide-ranging impact in cancer treatment.

The project will begin in June this year and continue until June 2022.

Arturo Sala in the lab for JustGiving Campaign 7
Arturo Sala in the lab for JustGiving Campaign 8