Medical Biology

Research themes within biomedical research include Microbiology and Infection, Neuroscience and Molecular Psychiatry, Immunity and Allergy, Diabetes, and Cell Biology of Cancer and Reproduction.

Research in Nanomedicine, Devices, Mass Spectrometry, Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, and Bioinformatics represent cross-theme cognate activity.

Cell Biology of Cancer and Reproduction Research Group
Gene expression and signalling mechanisms controlling growth and differentiation are complementary research areas within Cancer and Reproductive Biology.

  1. Reproductive Biology
  2. Gastrointestinal Research
  3. Medical and Clinical Oncology

Reproductive Biology
Reproductive Biology and Gynaecological Oncology Research

Reproductive biology and gynaecological oncology research in Swansea covers basic and translational research into uterine pathologies including endometrial cancer, poly-cystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis and unexplained infertility linked to endometrial (the lining of the womb) dysfunction. More recently new research has been established in the areas of overactive bladder syndrome, ovarian reserve and ovarian cancer. Our research involves the study of cell signalling, transcription and epigenetics, the development of clinically relevant biomarkers, and the development of therapeutic interventions.

Gastrointestinal Research
Research falls into four broad groupings:

Molecular Biological Research
This multidisciplinary research group, led by Professor John Baxter and Dr Gareth Jenkins, is actively engaged in understanding the molecular biology of cancers of the GI tract. Its research is aimed at better understanding the mechanisms behind GI cancer development in the hope that predictive markers and new drug therapies will subsequently follow. The group deliberately focuses its research on the early stages of cancer development where initiating events are more easily identified.

Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer Research
This group is particularly interested in, and well known for, its research into the pre-malignant form of oesophageal cancer known as Barrett’s Oesophagus. The group is also well known for its research into the role of bile acids in promoting cancer development in oesophageal tissues. The group is heavily involved in assessing the contribution of the transcription factor NF-kappaB to cancer development in the GI tract. The group uses state-of-the-art molecular techniques (gene expression analysis, phospho-westerns, ChIP analysis, confocal microscopy etc) to investigate the genes and proteins that are responsible for cancer development.

In addition, this group has a long history of researching molecular events in gastric cancer and, in particular, the association with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Once a better understanding of the molecular events contributing to oesophageal/gastric cancer has been achieved, it should become feasible to design strategies to disrupt these processes and reduce cancer deaths. Dietary components (e.g. curcumin from tumeric) that interfere with cancer promoting genetic defects are also being studied by the group. In addition, the same molecular events could then be used in early stages of cancer development to predict which patients are at higher risk of cancer, allowing subsequent intervention and tailored follow up.

Colorectal Cancer Research
The group also has an interest in colorectal cancer development and has, in conjunction with Mr John Beynon and Professor Jim Parry, been involved in many mechanistic studies of cancer development in colonic and rectal tissues. These research projects have been aimed at molecular defects in early cancers (polyps etc) and also at later stage cancers in an effort to better understand metastasis.

DNA Damage (Genotoxicity) Research
Gareth Jenkins has a particular interest in the mechanisms involved in DNA damage induction, mutagenesis and DNA repair. He has a very successful track record in this field, having won several awards for previous research work undertaken. He currently leads several research projects in this area aimed at better understanding chemically induced mutation, chemically induced chromosome damage and the non-linear dose responses for DNA/chromosome damage. These mechanistic studies are aimed at understanding our mutational risks after chemical exposures. Obviously, there is also a close association between DNA damage induction and cancer development and several projects looking at DNA damage induction in GI tract cancers are underway.

Medical and Clinical Oncology
Part of the Cell Biology of Cancer and Reproduction research group, this group is involved with the South West Wales Cancer Institute.