The Surrey Cancer Network has a multidisciplinary approach to improving chemotherapy by incorporating research into all aspects of chemotherapy from discovery of new drugs or drug targets to understanding and overcoming drug resistance developed against current drugs. 

Drug discovery

Natural product chemistry is being used with cell biology to identify potential new cytotoxic drugs for the treatment of cancer. Dr Helen Coley is interested in the development of new anticancer drugs and this has involved collaborations with members of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering looking at platinum-based chemotherapy and natural product derived new agents.  Dr Coley also has had collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry and currently this involves Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. She also has a collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia looking at a natural product derived therapy for possible treatment of breast cancer. Dr Nick Plant’s research has focussed on members of the super-family of nuclear receptors and drug transporters and using both in vitro assays and in silico modelling they are examining how alterations in tumour biology may impact upon the efficacy of chemotherapeutics. Such work will help drive the identification of novel treatment regimes, aimed at increasing drug disposition in to tumours, and efficient destruction of the tumour cells. Dr Coley has also been involved with nanotechnology as an approach to targeting of cancer therapy in conjunction with FEPS focusing on carbon nanotubes.

Drug resistance

Dr Helen Coley has a number of past and current collaborations involving anticancer drug resistance. Her current focus is on breast and ovarian cancers, tumours associated with the problem of chemoresistance. She has collaborations with Drs Green and Chivers, FHMS, Imperial College and the Section of Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Surrey County hospital on studies which focus around the epigenetics of drug resistance and the identification of biomarkers of drug responsiveness in breast and ovarian cancers.

The University of Surrey has also set up a biobank, under an acronym of the SUN study and has now been accepted as part of the National Confederation of Cancer Biobanks - part of National Cancer Research Institute's (NCRI). CCB is consortium of organisations based in the UK that are involved in the development, management and use of biobank resources for cancer research and a cancer biobank that has approval of CCB is a prestigious membership which offers broad exposure to samples that have been gathered and continue to be collected.