, Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom
We are studying how cancers evolve in the body to spread and become resistant to therapy and finding new ways to treat them more effectively.
In recent years it has become clear that every tumour is made up of many different groups of cancer cells, each with their own unique genetic makeup but all related to each other. Some groups of tumour cells develop resistance to treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapy, meaning that when the cancer comes back it is harder to treat.
This diversity, known as heterogeneity, occurs through evolutionary processes at work inside the tumour as the cells pick up DNA changes (mutations or chromosomal rearrangements) that allow them to respond and adapt to changes in the environment around them.