Story: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/cardiffonl ... -29424979/Luke Piggott
Luke Piggott: Ice hockey playing medical researcher
A scientist who plays ice hockey for Cardiff Devils has made a breakthrough discovery which could prevent women from dying from breast cancer.
Cardiff PhD student Luke Piggott has found how to kill breast cancer stem cells â?? and it has been dubbed the diseaseâ??s Achillesâ?? heel.
His research could lead to the development of new treatments which target these normally drug-resistant cells preventing the life-threatening spread of tumours.
Dr Richard Clarkson, a lecturer in translational research and Mr Piggottâ??s supervisor at Cardiff University, said: â??Cancer stem cells make up about 1% of the tumour itself and they seed tumour growth elsewhere in the body.
â??If we target the rest of the tumour, but donâ??t hit this 1% population, which are usually drug resistant, you can get relapse and spread.
â??These stem cells are the pernicious part of the tumour. Tumours in the breast wonâ??t kill, but as soon as it spreads â?? and it spreads easily because of the lymph vessels â?? it becomes a life-threatening situation.â?
While examining ways of sensitising breast cancer to an anti-cancer agent called TRAIL, Mr Piggott, discovered it had eliminated the stem cells.
â??I didnâ??t really expect to see what I did,â? the 25-year-old told the Echo. â??I was expecting to move along the microscope, but then I looked again and saw theyâ??d all died.
â??You do it again to check and then you check again and again and you start to believe it.â?
Mr Piggottâ??s research has shown that TRAIL, which has not been used in the treatment of breast cancer before, turned off a protein called c-FLIP, which gives stem cells their drug resistance.
Using this method they have achieved a 98% reduction in secondary tumours in the laboratory and the research showed repeat treatment is equally effective in eliminating cancer stem cells if they re-appear.
Dr Clarkson said: â??Weâ??ve identified the Achillesâ?? heel of cancer stem cells with this combination of suppressing the activity of c-FLIP and using this established drug to completely eliminate the stem cells.
â??If we can identify a way of killing the tumour cells, in particular these stem cells, and we now have done, itâ??s only a matter of time before we, and others, will find ways of hitting that target therapeutically with drugs in patients.â?
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Ice skates, maple syrup, and a dozen or so toothless morons.
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Cardiff Devils player makes cancer breakthrough as PHD scientist
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