People

Louise Dunnett

Postgraduate Research Student
School of Life Sciences
 Louise Dunnett

Profile

Biography

BSc in Molecular Biology, University of Sheffield (2005-2008) MSc in Cancer Immunology & Biotechnology, University of Nottingham (2013-2014) Scientific Officer, OncImmune Ltd (Nottingham) manufactures the EarlyCDT-Lung - a blood test for the early detection of Lung Cancer (2011-2015) Graduate Laboratory Assistant Lung Cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK (following Breast and Prostate cancer). Around 46,400 people were diagnosed with Lung Cancer in 2014, of these, 15% have Small Cell Lung Cancer which is malignant and highly aggressive and invasive. As a consequence, most patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer have extensive disease, where the tumour has spread beyond the confines of the lungs and established tumours at distal sites, known as metastases. Patients initially respond well to chemotherapy but the cancer cells rapidly develop chemoresistance. This is where the cancer cells resist the actions of the chemotherapy drugs, resulting in the patient suffering a relapse, and ultimately facing a poor prognosis - only 5% of Small Cell Lung Cancer patients survive beyond 5 years after diagnosis. Most chemotherapy drugs work by triggering a process called apoptosis, this is a normal biological event where a cell self-destructs as part of an organisms growth and development; it also works to eliminate any dysfunctional cells. A Hallmark of cancer is the ability to evade apoptosis. In Small Cell Lung Cancer the cancer cells evade apoptosis by using a Signal Pathway to trigger cell survival. The Cell Survival Signal Pathway is another normal biological process used by cells to survive through short periods of stress, which could otherwise cause their unnecessary death. In this pathwaya survival message arriving at the outside of a cell is carried through the cell by a series of proteins to the nucleus (the cells control centre) to cause a change in the cells behaviour. In Small Cell Lung Cancer the message to survive has been hijacked by the cancer cells to override the message from chemotherapy to perform apoptosis, allowing the cancer cells to survive and continue to grow and spread. My research aims to identify and characterise how these proteins interact by visualising their structure at atomic or near-atomic level using various structural biology techniques.In doing so we can explain how the proteins interact to transmit the unwanted survival signals through the cell and design new drugs which will prevent this or work to enhance the actions of existing drugs, leading to better treatments for cancer patients.

Qualifications

  • BSc Molecular Biology - The University of Sheffield, UK (2008)

  • MSc Cancer Immunology & Biotechnology - The University of Nottingham, UK (2014)

Research and professional activities

Thesis

Structural and Biophysical Characterisation of PKCe

Research interests

Lung Cancer

Signal Pathways

Structural Biology Techniques - X-Ray Crystallography, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS)

Contact

ledunn@essex.ac.uk

Location:

Colchester Campus