Cardiff University has seen a significant medical breakthrough in research aiming to cure cancer.
Scientists at the University have identified a compound that could potentially be used to target aggressive tumour cells.
The research, conducted through stem cell research, is thought to be able to help tackle cancerous cells responsible for breast, pancreas, colon and prostrate cancers.
The news comes despite statistics revealed by a higher education think-tank suggesting that Welsh universities are lagging behind in scientific research.
Using cutting-edge computer technology, the Cardiff team were able to identify a protein known to cause cancer stem cell maintenance and survival.
By identifying the protein, it is now hoped that work can be made to ‘deactivate the tumour’s self-defence mechanism’ and prevent regrowth.
As a result of the breakthrough, the discovery has been licensed to biotech experts Tizania Life Sciences, where it is hoped the research will be developed for use in clinical trials.
The news was released after a deal was made with Tizania on the London Stock Exchange.
The compound, named OH14 was developed by work conducted by both the University’s European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSRI) and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The news follows after the same research team discovered a molecule capable of reversing the spread of malignant breast cancer last year.
Dr Richard Clarkson, lead researcher of ECSRI said: ‘We are delighted to extend our relationship with Tiziana Life Sciences.’
OH14 is an example of a new generation of experimental agents designed to selectively target the pernicious stems cells within a tumour, thus improving the long-term prospects of cancer patients.’
Separate studies conducted by the University have also proved that prostate cancer sufferers live two years longer on average if offered chemotherapy.
The results were released from an on-going study being held by Warwick and Cardiff Universities examining prostate cancer in 6,500 cancer sufferers.
According to the research, men with incurable prostate cancer live on average two years longer if treated with chemotherapy in addition to the standard hormone treatment provided.
Chemotherapy is currently only offered to patients if hormone treatment is labelled ineffective.
As a result, scientists have called for the chemotherapy, named docetaxel, to be given to men as soon as they are diagnosed.
However, despite both findings, Welsh universities have continued to come under fire for their lack of science-based research in comparison to the rest of the U.K. and Europe.
In a report released last week, the higher education think-tank the Leadership Foundation has suggested that universities in Wales are currently loosing out on significant funding in research grants due to a nation-wide shortage of academics working in science.
Although the think-tank noted that the quality of research conducted in Wales has improved ‘significantly’ over the last decade, it was noted that many studies were centred on arts and humanities subjects.
Compared to the rest of the UK, Wales currently employs 1.3 per cent less research staff within areas involving clinical medicine, and 2.2 per cent less in engineering fields including product, aero and mechanical engineering.
The biggest shortage of research staff was found within the maths department, with 2.4 per cent less staff than UK university counterparts.
In a combination of staff from all STEMM subjcts, Wales faces a staff ‘deficit’ of over 600 people.
According to the report, Wales is placed behind both the rest of the U.K. and many European countries in terms of total gross expenditure.
It was noted that currently, Cardiff University receives 49 per cent of all Welsh universities research income.