Welcome to volume 2 of our Researcher Live series on Peptide Therapeutics: disease screening and drug design  - sponsored by ThermoFisher! Links to Vol. 1 recordings below. Sign up here to receive email reminders for this collection.


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Join us on 27th January at 10am GMT for an exciting talk by PhD candidate Hannah Spencer (University of Bradford) on peptide therapeutics in cancer treatment.


What are we going to talk about in this episode?


The Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, University of Bradford (ICT), is focused on targeted delivery of chemotherapeutics, and tumour-specific prodrugs in particular. Our research focuses on the transformation of potent cytotoxic agents to inactive peptide-conjugates that undergo selective activation within the tumour microenvironment. We are currently interested in matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a family of endopeptidases, and other endoproteases that have been shown to be overexpressed in multiple tumour types. We utilise both solution and solid phase chemistry to synthesise peptide-based therapeutics with potent but selective cytotoxicity in vivo. Prior to in vivo evaluation, all compounds are first assessed for in vitro cytotoxicity, successful cleavage in tumour tissue and stability in normal tissues (liver, kidney, lung) and plasma ex vivo.


The group, led by Prof Robert Falconer, has a particular interest in osteosarcoma, and in developing kinder treatments for this deadly disease that mainly affects children and young adults. Funded by the Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) through a PhD studentship (2018-22), and a project grant (2023-26), our aim is to achieve preclinical proof-of-concept for an MMP-activated tumour-targeted prodrug of methotrexate (MTX). MTX is widely used in the treatment of OS despite the many adverse side effects associated with its administration. We will evaluate our lead molecules in clinically-relevant orthotopic models of the disease in collaboration with Prof Allie Gartland (University of Sheffield)


Series programme:


  • 14th September 2022, 4pm BST / 3pm GMT - ‘Exploring hyperbranched peptide compounds in antimicrobial research’ with Dr Orode Aniejurengho, University of Essex Online


  • 12th October 2022, 10am BST/9am GMT – ‘BioSAXS – A Method To Accelerate And De-risk Antimicrobial Drug Development’ with Dr Kai Hilpert, St George's, University of London


  • 16th December 2022, 12pm GMT – ‘Peptides from chicken feet to manage hypertension’ with Dr Francisca Isabel Bravo, Universitat Rovira i Virgili


  • 27th January 2023, 10am GMT – ‘Taming Methotrexate – using peptide therapeutics to develop kinder treatments for Osteosarcoma’ with PhD candidate Hannah Spencer, University of Bradford.



Relevant papers:


Dose-related antihypertensive properties and the corresponding mechanisms of a chicken foot hydrolysate in hypertensive rats. (2018)


Long-term administration of protein hydrolysate from chicken feet induces antihypertensive effect and confers vasoprotective pattern in diet-induced hypertensive rats. (2019)


Novel antihypertensive peptides derived from chicken foot proteins. (2019)


Evidence that nitric oxide is involved in the blood pressure lowering effect of the peptide AVFQHNCQE in spontaneously hypertensive rats. (2019)


Implication of opioid receptors in the antihypertensive effect of a novel chicken foot-derived peptide. (2020)


If you'd like to present at your own Researcher Live event, please email kristine.lennie@researcher-app.com 


Please find the recording of our Peptide Therapeutics: disease screening and drug design Vol 1 series here:


 A Killer solution for vaginal candidiasis: New generation of antifungal peptides with Dr Miguel Fernández de Ullivarri, APC Microbiome Institute 


Peptide Hydrogel and Nanotubes for Drug Delivery and Biomaterial Applications with Dr Garry Laverty, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University in Belfast

Date and Time
Friday, January 27, 2023
10:00 am - 11:00 am GMT
Speakers Avatar Hannah Spencer, University of Bradford

Originally from Liverpool, Hannah moved to Bradford 10 years ago to study her BSc in Clinical Sciences shortly followed by her MSc in Biomedical Sciences. She then worked as a Research Assistant with Dr Rianne Lord for 6 months working on vanadium acetyl acetone complexes for use in colon cancer and then with Dr Clare Towse for 3 months working on the synthesis of modified amyloid peptides to investigate their activity in Alzheimer’s Disease progression.

She began her PhD studies to develop an MMP-activated methotrexate prodrug for osteosarcoma in the ICT in October 2018 under the supervision of Prof Robert Falconer, Prof Paul Loadman and Dr Steve Shnyder, which she has recently completed. Over the next 3 years in her new Post-Doctoral role, Hannah will be building on the research from her PhD to identify a lead-optimised methotrexate prodrug.

DOI: oes6Kin1rl7ppMbueU48_prepost_1

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