Burton Green scientist backed by cancer charity to start pioneering cancer research

Dr Stephen Royle (centre) with his lab team
Dr Stephen Royle (centre) with his lab team
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A Burton Green scientist has been given a six-figure grant by a cancer charity to fund pioneering research into the causes of the disease.

Dr Stephen Royle, based at Warwick University, is set to receive £158,000 from Cancer Research UK to fund pioneering research into how the process of cells dividing in the body can go wrong and cause cancer.

Dr Royle and his team will study brain tumour cells in the lab and brain tumour patients’ cells to understand more about the cell division process.

Dr Royle said: “When cells divide they have to make sure that the chromosomes which contain the cell’s DNA split equally so that two accurate cells are made.”

He explained that in many types of cancers the cells do not have equal numbers of chromosomes, meaning something has gone wrong during division.

He added: “My team’s work aims to better understand how this process going wrong can cause cancer. Our future goal would be to see if drugs can be developed and used to stop the cells dividing unequally and potentially stop cancer cells forming.

“Or, if they could be used to cause them to divide unequally in a more controlled manner, forcing the cancer cells to die.”

Dr Royle was given the funding as part of Cancer Research UK’s Pioneer Awards.

The awards are similar to the TV show ‘Dragon’s Den’, in that applicants have to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts.

Dr Jess Sutcliffe, research funding manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “The Pioneer Awards allow us to find and fund researchers with big ideas that hold up in front of a panel of experts, and which have the potential to be game-changing for cancer research.

“Research like Dr Royle’s is vital to increasing our understanding of cancer cell biology, in particular how cells divide and how if they do so incorrectly, it can lead to cancer.

“By carrying out research like this, scientists can look for and identify potential new ways to treat cancer and help more people survive the disease.”