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Tumour Microenvironment

Professors Gillian Tozer, Claire Lewis and Nicola Brown

The Tumour Microenvironment group is led by Professors Gillian Tozer, Claire Lewis and Nicola Brown and studies the ability of signals in tumours to regulate both the formation and maturation of tumour blood vessels, the tumour-promoting functions of inflammatory cells within tumours, and tumour responses to various forms of anti-cancer therapy.

With the support of a CR-UK programme grant, Gill Tozer’s group is studying the effects of both vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) and various isoforms of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), on the development and function of tumour blood vessels.

Nicola Brown’s group has a particular interest in the role of neural guidance molecules in the response to vascular-targeted therapy (with the support of Yorkshire Cancer Research, the Breast Cancer Campaign, and the Sheffield Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre). Her group is also investigating the use of novel nanoparticles for drug delivery to breast tumours (in an EPSRC-funded collaboration with Professor Guiseppe Battaglia in the Department of BioMedical Sciences (BMS)). Collaboration between the groups (Tozer and Brown) includes a programme grant from the CR-UK/EPSRC/MRC/DoH to support interdisciplinary studies across the Universities of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam on novel methods of imaging the tumour microenvironment (with Professor Martyn Paley, Department of Human Metabolism).

The mechanisms regulating breast tumour cell homing and adhesion to bone are being investigated using atomic force microscopy by the Brown Group in collaboration with Dr Jamie Hobbs in the Physics Department (EPSRC).

CR-UK are also funding two collaborative projects between the Lewis and Tozer groups to investigate how macrophages regulate the response of tumours to VDAs, chemotherapy and radiotherapy (with Dr Tim Chico in BMS). These are currently employing various novel tumour models including highly versatile approaches in zebrafish established by the group. In collaboration with Dr Munitta Muthana in the Department of Infection and Immunity, the Lewis lab has also developed a novel method for using macrophages to target therapeutic viruses specifically to prostate tumours (funded by the YCR, Prostate Cancer Charity and the MRC).