Photo of Leandro Castellano

Leandro Castellano
Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry (Biochemistry)
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T: +44 (0)1273 678382

Research

Dr Castellano group focuses on a class of molecule called noncoding RNA (ncRNA).  2% of human DNA contains RNA that encodes proteins, whilst the vast majority of the rest represent ncRNA. We, and others, have shown several RNAs from this class are pivotal in the development of cancer. Our particular focus is on microRNAs and long ncRNAs. They were thought to have no function so there is still much to be learnt about their roles in cancerogenesis.

We hope to identify ncRNAs and novel pathways involved in cancer growth or treatment resistance that could be targeted with new therapy. The modulation of these molecules is possible in clinical practice and early drug trials targeting specific ncRNA are underway.  We also suspect that these molecules will make good biomarkers as they are very stable in the blood, and could be used to assist in earlier diagnosis and monitoring treatment response.

Summary of current research

  • Identification of novel long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) and microRNAs in cancer initiation, progression and metastasis using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technologies
  • Evaluation of the mechanism of action of selected ncRNAs in cancer and the network of coding-noncoding RNA and protein interaction.
  • Investigation of the interaction between RNA binding proteins (RBP), RNAs and their targets in cancer using  immunoprecipitation followed by next generation sequencing of the protected fragments (CLIP-seq).
  • Use of CRISPR technologies to identify novel ncRNAs regulated by microRNAs in cancer.
  • Assessment of the therapeutic potential of selected ncRNAs
  • Valuation of the potential of selected ncRNAs as cancer biomarkers.