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Helen Tyrrell

DPhil student

I am a doctor, specialising in oncology, currently working towards a DPhil in Prof Fiona Powrie’s group, funded by CRUK. 

I’m investigating the role of fibroblasts in colorectal cancer.  In health, fibroblasts are vital supporting cells, but in a tumour the cancer cells produce molecules that change how the fibroblasts behave.  My hypothesis is that there are different types of fibroblast in colorectal cancer, some of which promote growth of the tumour, and others that limit it. 

I am using multiplex imaging to try to identify the different types of fibroblast, using samples of colorectal tumours from patients, that have been removed by surgery.  I want to find out which molecules lead to the development of these fibroblast subtypes and which cells of the immune system they are interacting with.  I would like to see which subtypes are associated with poor prognosis, as this may guide specific targeting of the fibroblasts for treatment.