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Summer Student 2021: Ali Mehmood

Summer Student 2021: Ali Mehmood

Development of an ageing-associated tumour score to predict prognosis in head and neck cancer using artificial intelligence approaches.

Supervisor name and institution: Evija Dzene, Queen Mary University of London

Project summary:

Head and neck cancer is a deadly disease that affects more than 600,000 people worldwide. Tumour markers are substances, usually proteins, produced by the body in response to cancer growth or by cancer tissue itself. Their detection and measurement in blood plasma, urine or tissue can help to detect and aid diagnosis of some types of cancer, predict and monitor response to treatment and detect recurrence. Despite decades of extensive research using animals, not a single marker to predict treatment response or the course of head and neck cancer has reached clinics.

Our cells constantly divide as we get older, however, this growth is not unlimited and after a predefined number of divisions, our cells age and stop dividing in a process called cellular senescence. Cancer cells increase rapidly by overcoming the body’s natural “ageing clock” and continuing to divide until a tumour has been formed. Cells can also be “forced” to stop dividing as an anti-tumour response in a process termed oncogene-induced senescence. However, the relationship between senescence and cancer is further complicated by the fact that senescent cells secrete proteins which promote cancer, even though they themselves have been forced to stop dividing. This project will explore the complex relationship between senescence and cancer using artificial intelligence approaches in head and neck cancer.

Ali’s project seeks to use a combination of computer learning and animal free laboratory techniques to develop a marker to predict the progression of disease in patients with head and neck cancer.

Animals project will replace: Mice and rats.

Watch Ali’s Summer School presentation…

Get to know Ali…

Why do you want to participate in animal replacement summer studentship?

I want to develop my research skills and understanding how it works to make advances in understanding diseases. To be part of an animal free research programme is a fantastic opportunity as I believe that this is the direction that all research should move in.

How will the Summer Student Programme help to kick-start your career as an animal free researcher?

It would provide a platform to gain the necessary skills that would allow me to do further research in the future and will build on the work I’ve done in my BSc in Experimental Pathology. I see this studentship as a great way to get more involved in the field of animal free research.

Why is research without the use of animals important to you?

I think it’s important that we move away from the use of animals in research. Many animals are subjected to harm in experiments despite regulations being in place, so it is important that research moves away from their use in the future.

How does your project fit in with your degree?

This project would follow on from my BSc in Experimental Pathology and allow me to build on the research experience I have gained over the past few months. It will help me to gain lab and research skills I wouldn’t expect to gain from the medicine MBBS course.

What are your future plans and career aspirations?

At the moment I want to complete the MBBS degree and currently plan to go on become a junior doctor. However, from the experience I have already gained from the BSc and plan to gain from the studentship I would like to return to the labs to work on more projects in the future. By doing all these courses and projects I hope that I can become more rounded in my abilities from academic, research and clinical perspectives which in turn will provide more opportunities in the future.


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Page last modified on December 15, 2021 3:51 pm