Oral Cancer is one of the ten most common human malignancies in the world. Our growing research programme in Oral Cancer draws upon interdisciplinary research in molecular biology, biomedical imaging and computational modelling and aims to identify mechanisms underlying oral carcinogenesis and develop novel evidence-based diagnostic tools, biomarkers and therapeutic targets for oral cancer.
Our research group
- We investigate quantitative features oral epithelium architecture in normal, ageing and pathological tissue, structural complexity and hierarchical spatial epithelial organisation.
- We develop digital microscopy tools for analysis and visualisation of biological data, and we work towards intelligent microscopy by developing histologically relevant models of biological imagery based on the mereotopological relations of nuclei, cells and tissues. This enables us to use machine reasoning techniques to gain insights on scene contents quantification and validation of segmentation results.
- We research into the processes involved in cancer cell migration and invasiveness using 3D-organotypic co-culture models and oral carcinoma cell lines. Our work aims to elucidate the cellular and molecular processes involved including the role of genetic and epigenetic factors, signalling factors and cell-cell signalling as well as the role of stromal cells on cancer migration and invasion. We also develop imaging techniques to assess the invasion boundaries of malignant and premalignant lesions as measures of tissue infiltration to contribute to novel models and strategies that facilitate diagnosing, targeting and modifying oral cancer behaviour.
- We aim to understand the epigenetic mechanisms by which chromatin organization and DNA methylation regulate gene expression in healthy oral epithelia. We aim to unravel how methylation and hydroxymethylation change in oral tumour cells and whether they can be reversed by treatments using agents such as DNA methylation inhibitors and retinoic acid.
- We investigate the early events in oral carcinogenesis and how epigenetic landscapes are affected by human papilloma virus and chronic inflammation. To move towards translational applications, we incorporate 3D culture models of oral epithelium and validate our results on carcinoma samples using genome-wide, next generation sequencing methods.