Project case study 4: IGF Axis

Oliver Dale is a Head and Neck Research Fellow at the John Radcliffe Hospital. He is currently conducting research at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, under the supervision of Dr Valentine Macaulay, and ENT Consultant Surgeon Mr Stuart Winter.

Oliver has recently been awarded the £10,000 Modi Research Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England to support his research into the IGF axis in head and neck cancer.  Heads Up is providing the balance of £25,000 needed to fund this work.

Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) is a protein, produced by the liver, which plays an important part in the growth and development of certain types of cancer. IGF binds to a receptor (IGF-R) on the surface of cells, and in doing so, influences cell growth. Recent work has demonstrated that IGF and the IGF-R are of particular significance in HNC. In HNC high levels of IGF and IGF-R are associated with a poor response to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and a poor overall prognosis.

Ultimately Oliver hypothesises that IGF could be a useful tool in HNC that can be extended to other tumours in future, allowing clinicians to predict the response of tumours to treatment, and increasing the sensitivity of tumours to existing treatments.

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