Patient advocate Helen Matthews meets co-investigator Owen Sansom to discuss SPECIFICANCER’s latest findings, how working cross-discipline enables ‘big strides forward’ and the unique, important perspectives brought to the programme by patient advocacy.
By scrutinising healthy cells from the 8 tissue types that give rise to the most common cancers, the SPECIFICANCER team hopes to identify whether certain genes are only active in different parts of the body.
Owen's research is particularly focused on colorectal cancer. “The colon is a remarkable organ, with this rapid turnover of cells, like an epithelial cell escalator, shedding millions of cells every 72 hours – compared to the liver, which helps to detoxify and metabolise, and doesn’t have the same rapid production of new cells,” Owen describes.
“Maybe there’s something about the blue-print of the tissue that dictates tissue specificity - or maybe it’s something completely different that we’ve never thought about before. That’s what we want to find out.”