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Oxford biomedical pathway students learn about the latest cancer research

At the Oxford campus, there are a lot of Biomedical Pathway talks. I was able to attend one on cancer research. It went into detail about how researchers set about designing prodrugs. These eventually turn into active drugs when they reach hypoxic tumor cells and destroy them. There was a strong emphasis on how important it is to test drugs in person and not just through computer analysis.

The speaker was Dr. Ishna Mistry, a scientist from the University of Oxford Department of Oncology. Dr. Mistry completed her undergraduate degree in Natural Science and was keen to continue learning about the interface between chemistry and biology. She was later offered a postgraduate studentship in cancer therapeutics. Her research aims to better understand the response of cancer cells in low oxygen conditions, which often occur in tumor tissue.

Her multi-disciplinary Ph.D. allows her to use a range of skills from both chemistry and biology to help develop cancer therapeutics. One such cancer she discussed during her talk was about hypoxia which is a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level. With the help of prodrugs, the area of a tumor with a lower oxygen supply can be detected by the drugs, which then kills them.

Having the opportunity to attend this talk given by a world-leading expert in the field gave me an understanding of how important clinical trials are in order to develop new treatment methods and medications. I was able to see why it’s important to go beyond computer analysis and test drugs in a realistic situation – which is exactly what needs to be done in research projects.

Written by Yani Chen,
2018 graduate of the A-Level program
Originally published April 12, 2018

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