• Question: Hi, what sort of experiments do you do to research cancer?

    Asked by katieeandbeccaa to Leo, Mariam, Gioia, Jo, Iain on 23 Jun 2010 in Categories: . This question was also asked by boatwright1, frank123rous, rosieflett, parisreneex, sammibabes.
    • Photo: Joanna Watson

      Joanna Watson answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      I don’t really do ‘experiments’ as such. I mostly just observe what happens to people in their normal lives.

      One of the kind of things we might do is to get data on a big group of people, some who do a particular thing (like smoking for example) and some who don’ t do that thing – then we follow them up for a long time to see whether one of the groups is more likely to get cancer than the other group.

      It’s a bit more complicated than that because we have to take into account all the other differences in their lifestyles, but that’s the basic idea.

    • Photo: Leo Garcia

      Leo Garcia answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      All of my experiments involve an ultrasound scanner! I often have to make tissue-mimicking blocks of jelly which I scan using the scanner. I have also collected clinical data, so I have taken the scanner into, for example, brain surgery, and used it on a real live human brain!

    • Photo: Mariam Orme

      Mariam Orme answered on 22 Jun 2010:

      Some of my experiments are genetic experiments with fruit flies: combining different genes to try and understand what those genes do.
      Other experiments are biochemical: this means that I manipulate cells in different ways, making them express different proteins. Then I can mush the cells up and use various techniques to try and understand how the proteins behave.
      I hope that gives you some idea, but it’s a bit hard to explain exactly what I do. That’s why, if I won the £500, I would take experiments into schools to give students an idea of the sort of thing I do!

    • Photo: Iain Moal

      Iain Moal answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Hi, I use computer simulations in order to study the way molecular machines self-assemble. I am about to start using my computer program to look at how cancer-related mutations can affect how different machines assemble, and see if I can find some patterns which could be of clinical use.