Glycobiology and cancer

Dr Susan Brooks

Every cell in the body has a bewildering array of glycoprotein molecules protruding from its surface. The interaction of these glycosylated molecules with specific receptors for oligosaccharides (complex sugar chains) on the surface of other cells are of vital importance in a diverse range of biological phenomena; pollination in plants; sperm-egg fertilization in mammals and man; leukocyte homing to sites of inflammation and infection; establishment of bacterial; parasitic and viral infections and the biology of many human diseases, including cancer. This has led to a recent explosion of interest in the emerging field of glycobiology.

Projects

Our particular interest is in trying to understand the alterations in cell surface glycosylation that frequently occur with human disease, particularly cancer, and how the expression of altered, abnormal or inappropriate oligosaccharides by cells is related to the prognosis and clinical course of the patient. The aim of this approach is not only to better understand the disease process at a molecular level, but also to develop novel and effective methods of screening, diagnosis and therapy.

We have identified a group of abnormal oligosaccharides, the expression of which is associated with the ability of cancer cells to spread. Since preliminary results were published, these findings have been confirmed by research groups all over the world in a range of human cancers. Much of our current research interest is aimed at identification and analysis of specific oligosaccharide structures associated with aggressive cancer behaviour, and the development of functional assays to investigate their biological role.

This is achieved through techniques such as immunohistochemistry using antibodies and lectins analysed by microscopy at the light and electron microscope level , SDS-PAGE and Western glycoprotein blotting of biological samples, chromatography to isolate glycoproteins of interest, oligosaccharide analysis using oligosaccharide HPLC, and in vivo and in vitro models.

People

Collaborations

  • Department of Surgery, University College London Medical School
  • Department of Biosciences, Westminster University, London
  • Department of Anatomy, Hamburg University
  • CNRS, University of Orleans, France
  • University of Birmingham Medical School
  • UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, University College, Dublin.

Publications

Dr Susan Brooks

CONTACT US

Dr Susan Brooks

sbrooks@brookes.ac.uk
+44 (0) 1865 483285

Publications

Glycobiology and cancer