Researchers awarded €2M to develop cancer imaging tools
January 2018: Dr Marc Vendrell has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant to further his group's research.
Dr Marc Vendrell, a Principal Investigator based at the Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh, is leading a research group to develop Dynamic Activatable Fluorophores (DYNAFLUORS) that label active immune cells in tumours, allowing the team to visualise in detail how they are behaving.
Although cancer treatment has improved remarkably over the years, the cure rates for patients with advanced cancers remain low due to lack of appropriate therapies.
Recent studies suggest that immunotherapies, which empower specific groups of immune cells, are promising approaches for unmanageable tumours. In order to find the right immunotherapy for every patient and to monitor the progression of treatment over time, technologies such as DYNAFLUORS are required to visualise the response in real time, from the molecular level up to human tissue.
DYNAFLUORS will use logical components – initially developed in electronics and computation – to distinguish between active immune cells and all other cells found in tumours, so that emitted fluorescent signals will be only detected when specific and active immune cells are found. By combining different DYNAFLUORS with different colours, it will be possible to gain an overall picture of immune cell activity in tumours.
This platform will represent a step forward in chemical imaging and will also create many opportunities in the personalised management of cancer.
The ERC Consolidator Grant is a highly competitive annual scheme that sees thousands of researchers apply every year from across Europe. In 2017, the Physical Sciences and Engineering category received 1149 applications from 22 different countries. Just 151 were successful and Dr Vendrell was the only recipient of an award in this category in the whole of Scotland, making this a truly remarkable achievement.
Dr Vendrell has also just been admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, highlighting the impact of his research in the field. Many congratulations!