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Research Fellows Directory

Cameron Alexander

Professor Cameron Alexander FRSC, CChem, FHEA

Research Fellow

Organisation

University of Nottingham

Research summary

Research in this Fellowship is based around new materials for applications in serious diseases including cancer and bacterial infections.

Specifically, the research aims to turn some 'agents of disease' into the 'agents of their own destruction'. Some cancer cells and infective bacteria have enzymes which are switched on to generate resistance to therapy, so in the Fellowship the plan is to exploit these enzymes, along with other related biochemical agents, to switch on a response in a synthetic material. This response could be either used to diagnose a site of infection or resistance in cancer, or to deliver a drug at the site which will help to treat the disease. In the first year of the Fellowship we have been exploring some of the biochemical processes, and making some new materials which have 'trigger units' designed into their structures. Although at early stages, we have been able to show that some of the new materials can respond to the types of biochemical change present in cancer cells in order to release a drug. For the next stages in the project we will be looking at how the new materials can be targeted to the specific diseased cells, and establishing whether the responses we see in the chemistry labs can be reproduced at the surface of infective bacteria or in cancer cells.

The potential impact of the work is in new ways to detect and treat infections and cancer early. Microbial resistance is one of the most significant threats to society and methods to combat infective bacteria without generating resistance are a major priority worldwide. In parallel, WHO estimates that, with an ageing population, 1 in 2 people in developed countries will be affected by cancer by 2030. The importance therefore of these new potential therapies is obvious, but remains a substantial scientific and technological challenge. This Royal Society Fellowship allows me the flexibility to take a high risk, high reward approach to these challenges.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Turning Biological Information into Materials Function for Medical Applications

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Dates: May 2016 - Apr 2021

Value: £50,000