Events calendar

“Converging on Cancer”- Dr Lauren Ford and Dr Calum Gabbutt

28 Sep 2023, 15:00 PM

In this webinar series, presented by the Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre at Imperial College London and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, researchers from both institutions will discuss key challenges facing cancer research and the potential of convergence science to tackle them. Join us to discover how innovative approaches and cutting-edge technologies can elucidate unresolved questions in cancer biology, revolutionise cancer research, and bring pioneering treatments to cancer patients faster.


Hosted by our Scientific Director, Professor Axel Behrens, this series aims to fulfil the Centre's mission of fostering collaboration between traditionally separate disciplines.


We invite you to join us online on Thursday, September 28th, from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, for a presentation by:


Dr Lauren Ford – Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London.


“Development of technology for high-throughput and passive monitoring for earlier detection of colorectal cancer”


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths worldwide. Catching cancer as early as possible in the disease progression drastically improves survival rate. Population level screening using Faecal Immunochemcial Testing (FIT) is done in the UK for adults aged 60-74, this test detects human blood in the stool and has high sensitivity for CRC. However, this test is less effective for detecting earlier pre-cancerous lesions known as polyps. In addition to this there is increasing incidence of younger adults developing CRC therefore we need testing that is cheaper, more available to a wider population and detects pre-cancerous lesions. Ambient Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (AIMS) is a technology that can measure the chemical signature of human biofluids in less than ten seconds, having the potential to revolutionise the detection of bowel cancer through stool analysis. This technology works by measuring the chemicals shed from cancerous cells into the stool and urine as well as detecting metabolite signatures associated with bacterial microbiome abundances. However, biofluids can be very complex, these chemicals can be lost in the noise created by variability in the sample but also patient diet and the bacteria communities that live in the gut. This fellowship will allow me to reform testing techniques by coupling ambient ionisation mass spectrometry to smart materials for surface enhanced metabolite assessment of biofluids. The smart materials will enable accumulation of the chemicals helping to diagnose disease whilst removing chemicals that cause problems, such as salts, thus increasing the sensitivity of disease detection using this test.


Dr Lauren Ford is a Research Fellow working with Professor Zoltan Takats.





Dr Calum Gabbutt – Division of Molecular Pathology, The Institute of Cancer Research, London.


“Methylation-based lineage markers as a novel method to measure a cancer’s evolutionary dynamics.”


Cancers grow as part of an evolutionary process; both in their transformation from a normal, healthy cell and in the development of drug resistance in response to treatment. However, inferring a cancer’s evolutionary history is not trivial, as longitudinal patient data is often lacking. Instead, we must rely on heritable lineage markers, the patterns of which record the clonal history of a population.


Recently we discovered novel DNA methylation-based lineage markers which we termed fluctuating CpGs (fCpGs). In this talk, I will discuss how these fCpGs function as a naturally occurring evolving barcode which, combined with mathematical modelling and Bayesian methods, allowed us to infer the evolutionary history of almost 2000 lymphoid cancers.


Dr Calum Gabbutt is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Professor Trevor Graham.