Spotlight on:
Jessica Bell, Children’s Cancer Institute

Can you give a brief introduction?
Jessica is a highly experienced senior research officer at Children’s Cancer Institute. She is interested in RNA metabolism, epitranscriptomics (RNA level epigenetics), childhood cancer aetiology and treatment strategies for all cancers. Dr Bell has published her research in highly regarded journals including the Journal of Clinical Oncology (first author) and in numerous papers in Cancer Research. ‪Jessica Lilian Bell - ‪Google Scholar

Can you describe the research funded by the Cancer Theme?
RNA/DNA sequencing of patient and cell line samples, molecular biology techniques, genetic animal models, neuroblastoma, 17q chromosomal aberrations, retinoids, RNA-binding proteins (IGF2BP1, YTHDF2), non-coding RNAs, MYCN and MYC oncogenes.

Cancer cells rely on copper for survival. We recently found that by using a drug to deplete copper levels in mice, we cured 25% of mice with a deadly brain cancer. Our laboratory found that reducing copper levels in brain cancer cells also decreases the amount of a protein called YTHDF2. Moreover, higher levels of YTHDF2 protein in brain tumours is linked with a faster death in humans. As yet there are no government approved medicines against YTHDF2, however our work suggests that copper lowering drugs could be a used to inhibit YTHDF2. These drugs are already used in children with genetic diseases. With this funding we aim to measure the pattern of YTHDF2 protein on pathology slides made from tumour tissues as well as investigate if copper depletion drugs could be combined with YTHDF2 inhibiting drugs as a novel chemotherapy strategy against deadly brain and nerve cancers in children.

How is the seed funding support your research?
Most of the funds will go to Oxford nanopore sequencing to determine how RNA methylations are impacted by copper lowering drugs and YTHDF2 levels.

Are you looking for any collaborations with fellow researchers?
She is available for student supervision, grant writing collaborations and collaborative review articles on the above topics.