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Cardiff University Cancer Symposium 2023: a showcase of innovative new research by our early career researchers

The 2023 Cardiff University Cancer Symposium took place in the Hadyn Ellis building at the end of March, bringing together academic and clinical researchers from across the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences and beyond.

Organised by Cancer Theme Leads from the Systems Immunity Research Institute, the Wales Cancer Research Centre (WCRC), the Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre (ECMC) and the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI), the event showcased expertise, knowledge and strengths from across Cardiff University, whilst facilitating exciting discussions and fostering new collaborations.

During the event, over 150 attendees were able to hear a diversity of talks presented by early career researchers from across Cardiff University on topics including: Discovering new Cancer Targets, Optimising and Developing Novel Cancer TreatmentsPatient and Public InvolvementData: how can we learn more from every patient? Disease Modelling and Early Detection and Cancer prevention and detection. The day also included a poster exhibition with prizes awarded for both the best posters and the top presentations of the day.

Presentation prizes were awarded to researchers Dr Sarah Lauder, Dr Catia Neto and Dr Daniel Turnham.

Sarah, a Research Associate from The Division of Infection and Immunity, who presented in the ‘Discovering new Cancer Targets’ session, talked about using a novel immunotherapy approach using a combination of a small molecule and an antibody to boost immune responses to breast cancer. Her work showed the power of unravelling synergistic immune mechanisms for identifying effective, new treatment approaches.   

Catia, a Research Associate from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences presented an exciting ‘iPSC-derived multicellular 3D platform to study brain tumours.’ her research focuses on the treatment of Glioblastoma where she has developed a 3D cerebral organoid model derived from induced pluripotent stem cells to help to study the GBM tumour environment.

Finally, Dan, a Research Associate from The European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, School of Biosciences presented in the ‘Optimising and Developing Novel Cancer Treatments’ session where he talked about ‘Preclinical evaluation of a novel antibody drug conjugate for prostate cancer.’ Daniel’s research focuses on the development of a new potent Antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) targeting the receptor-for-advanced-glycation- end-products (RAGE). In so doing the ADC is empowered to deliver cytotoxic drugs specifically to killRAGE-expressing prostate cancer.

Prizes were also awarded for the best research posters with 1st place going to Carwyn Hughes for his poster on developing nanobodies for targeting HER2+ breast cancers, 2nd place to Maryam Alanazi who used bioinformatic approaches to look at the role of nuclear ribonucleoproteins in acute myeloid leukaemia and 3rd to Rebecca Wallace who described the development of novel oncolytic viruses.

Key parts of the event were the breaks and the refreshments at the end of the day when researchers could get to know each other whilst mulling over the exciting science and planning next steps. 

Co-organiser Dr Helen Pearson said: 

“The Cancer symposium provided a terrific opportunity for all cancer researchers across Cardiff to meet in person, strengthen and foster new collaborations, and to truly showcase the diverse range of important studies being undertaken. The talks truly emulated the enthusiasm, dedication and passion for cancer research by our ECRs. I particularly enjoyed learning about the breadth of exciting and innovative PhD student projects during the poster sessions.”

Prof. Mererid Evans, Director of the Wales Cancer Research Centre said:

“Cardiff University’s Cancer Theme Day was a fantastic event, and the team at the Wales Cancer Research Centre (WCRC) were thrilled to be involved in helping to bring people together for discussion and collaboration on the day. As Director of the WCRC I was extremely proud to present our new strategy (CReSt) during the opening session and highlight the Centre’s role in making that strategy a reality for cancer researchers and patients in Wales.”

To find out more about cancer research at Cardiff University and the Wales Cancer Research Centre please visit the website.

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