Using computers to predict treatment response

Dr Crispin Miller at the University of Manchester has a £139,722 grant to train a PhD student to develop computer models that predict how men with advanced prostate cancer will respond to treatment. Ultimately this work will help us to get better at matching the treatment given to an individual man’s cancer.

Usually our genetic code is used to create proteins that do a variety of jobs in our body. However more recently it’s been found that some code, which doesn’t create proteins and was previously thought to be unimportant, can actually have a profound effect on what our cells do. Studying these ’non-coding’ molecules can give us a lot of clues about the ‘behind the scenes’ activity that drives prostate cancer growth, as well as how cells respond to this regulation, and what treatments might most affect them.

The student will use prostate cancer cells grown in the lab and prostate cancer tumour samples to identify which of these molecules are turned on or off in response to various prostate cancer treatments. They’ll then use high-powered computational techniques to predict how these treatments affect the activity of genes. The aim is to use these models to predict, with far greater accuracy than is possible now, how an individual man will react to a particular treatment before he receives it. That would allow us to minimise unnecessary side effects and maximise the chance of a man getting the treatment that’s best for him quickly.

Grant information

Reference - TLD-S15-009
Lead Researcher - 
Dr Crispin Miller
Institution - University of Manchester
Award - £139,722
PhD student - Ronnie Rodrigues-Pereira