NBUK Trustees and supporters attended our Annual Conference in Bristol last month.
One of the grants awarded in 2014 was to Dr Karim Malik of Bristol University for a project to investigate the finding that inhibiting a protein called PRMT5 destabilises MYCN, a protein which is often over-expressed in high risk neuroblastoma. This grant was awarded jointly with Smile with Siddy (SWS) and Dr Malik kindly showed representatives of this charity and the NBUK Trustees round his laboratories.
One of the more important pieces of equipment pointed out to us was an “IncuCyte” incubator. This measures the health and survival of cultured cells in real time and is a sensitive way to measure how neuroblastoma cells react to experimental drugs. He stressed the importance of further world class facilities in proteomics and transcriptomics provided by the University of Bristol.
After the tour, Dr Malik and two members of his laboratory, Dr Maria Szemes and Dr Madhu Kollareddy, gave us three presentations to explain his laboratory’s research. He spoke first about the work being supported by NBUK and SWS. Exposing neuroblastoma cells to an inhibitor of PRMT5 led to depletion of MYCN and cell death by preventing the separation of new cells during cell division. The effect of such inhibitors was now being examined as part of a Cancer Research UK funded study (in collaboration with Professor Chesler at the Institute of Cancer Research).
Dr Szemes explained how her work with a PhD student in Dr Malik’s laboratory had suggested a possible marker for monitoring the effect of kinase inhibitory drug used in cancer therapies.
Finally, Dr Kollareddy introduced us to the practice of “drug repurposing” which is the application of known drugs as treatments for new diseases. One advantage of drug repurposing is that such drugs can rapidly be introduced into clinical practice as dosage and safety issues have already been explored. He showed us how a repurposed drug was able to inhibit cell division, resulting in the killing of a range of neuroblastoma cells in culture but had no effect on normal cells.
Our thanks to Dr Malik and his team for their hospitality.