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Sussex chemist joins advisory panel for cancer research charity

A University of Sussex chemist has recently joined a panel of experts who advise Worldwide Cancer Research.

John Spencer, Professor of Bioorganic Chemistry, joined the charity’s Scientific Advisory Committee, earlier in the year.

The Committee, made of eminent cancer specialists, assess and review research grant applications to the charity, of which over 350 are received on a yearly basis.

Professor Spencer said: “Worldwide Cancer Research have funded much of my own research over the years and I am delighted to now have the opportunity to give back to this important organisation.”

The Spencer group conduct research on a major cancer protein, p53, often referred to as the ‘Guardian of the Genome’.

This protein is vital for cells to overcome any damage, such as that caused by UV light. P53 also instructs cells to ‘commit suicide’ in a process known as apoptosis.

However, in about 50% of cancer cases, the p53 protein is highly mutated, preventing it from functioning properly.

These mutations cause the cell to release the brakes on cell growth and division, leading to the development of tumours.

Professor Spencer and his team aim to synthesise new drugs to target the faults in this vital protein that occur with many types of cancer, and it is hoped that one day their work may lead to personalised medicines for cancer patients.

Professor Spencer explains his research in this Worldwide Cancer Research video:

For further information about Professor Spencer’s research, view his publications.


By: Jessica Gowers
Last updated: Friday, 14 February 2020

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