Summer Student Jowi Guillen
Supervised by Dr Helen Colley at the University of Sheffield, Jowi Guillen is developing tissue-engineered models to study the development of oral cancer, to help replace experiments on mice and hamsters.
Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a type of mouth cancer, sadly with a low survival rate. Before progressing into cancer, cells in the mouth develop abnormalities and are considered pre-cancerous, a process known as dysplasia. Currently, the only way to tell which cells are destined to become cancerous is by taking painful biopsies from patients. Tumours are also sadly grown in the mouths of mice and hamsters to study oral cancer, causing them pain and debilitation.
In her summer project, Jowi took human dysplasia cells grown in a lab and generated three-dimensional models. Using her novel animal free model will enable researchers to study oral cancer progression, to develop new treatment strategies and less-painful diagnostic tools for dysplasia.
Understanding the biology of human diseases requires a human-like model. It is an honour to be granted the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of our world’s knowledge about oral cancer, be the first to produce a 3D dysplastic model, and implement this research without the use of animal products.
With Animal Free Research UK’s support, I have expanded my understanding of the uncertain and come closer to developing and discovering solutions for major healthcare challenges, such as oral squamous cell carcinoma.