The charity Worldwide Cancer Research has awarded Professor Anton Gartner just over £200,000 to study ways to improve the use of chemotherapy. The research could one day help identify people who would benefit the most from a particular type of treatment.

The award, which Professor Gartner secured after a ‘Dragons Den’ style meeting involving some of the world’s leading cancer researchers, will support two years of research at the University. Professor Gartner will be using microscopic worms, called nematode worms, to investigate ways to make chemotherapy more effective.

Professor Gartner explained, “Cisplatin is a widely used chemotherapy drug that works by damaging the DNA of cells to the extent that the cell cannot repair itself and dies. However, even after successful treatment, cancers often return because some of the cancer cells are able to repair the damage caused by cisplatin and survive.

“We want to try and identify the molecular machinery that cells use to repair damage caused by cisplatin. By doing this we hope it will lead to better ways to identify patients that would benefit the most from the drug.”

Dr Helen Rippon, Chief Executive of Worldwide Cancer Research, said, “Nematode worms are a useful organism to study in the lab because they are only made of around 1000 cells and their genetics are very well understood. This means that Professor Gartner will easily be able to study the changes that occur to DNA following cisplatin in a living organism.

“We are delighted to support Professor Gartner on this innovative project. We expect that it will drive forward our knowledge on cancer treatments with the hope of improving their use for patients in the future.”

The grant awarded to Professor Gartner is one of 20 new projects the charity Worldwide Cancer Research have committed to fund from 2018. Close to £4 million has been raised for these projects through generous contributions from the public.