Section of Biomarkers and Therapy

Led by Professor Roz Banks

The main interests within the section are in discovering and translating novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets to the clinic. We have specific clinical focusses in urological cancers, particularly in renal cancer, and in diseases of the kidney including acute kidney injury (AKI) and renal transplantation.  We use a variety of approaches but with a particular focus on proteomics, and our studies range from basic biomedical research through to clinical trials and partnerships with industry to ensure transition along the translational pathway. 

Research Areas

A relatively small Section, we are largely composed of members of the Clinical and Biomedical Proteomics group and the NIHR Leeds Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative management team (Leeds DEC).

Within the Clinical and Biomedical Proteomics group, with an emphasis on multidisciplinary working and through extensive collaborative links we employ a range of approaches spanning both scientific and clinical areas and involving people with expertise including wet lab discovery and biological science, mass spectrometry, immunoassay development and validation, biostatistical analysis, pathology, oncology, renal medicine and clinical trials. We are particularly involved in the application of proteomic technologies to biomarker discovery with biomarkers having major potential benefit to the patient in contributing to the concept of “personalised medicine”, enabling for example earlier diagnosis, determination of prognosis, selection of optimal treatment and monitoring of response and toxicity. Several biomarkers are now being validated in renal cancer (Banks, Vasudev, Selby, Zougman). In renal transplantation, a novel serum biomarker is undergoing further studies with an industrial partner in combination with health economic studies and further discovery studies are planned (Banks, Zougman) and in AKI validation studies are planned for some promising novel serum biomarkers (Banks, Zougman). An important component of the proteomic studies is also the development of novel technological approaches (Zougman). Additionally through collaborations with IARC and the Genome Innovation Centre in Quebec and participation in a major EU-funded Programme, we are exploring associations between genomic and epigenetic changes and clinical aspects of renal cancer in large scale international studies.

Inherent in such studies is the generation of new mechanistic insights into disease pathways, facilitating the development of new targeted therapies. In renal cancer, in vitro studies are currently being pursued into novel potential targets (Vasudev, Banks) and innovative clinical trials pursued (Vasudev) and in prostate cancer, novel vaccine-based therapies are being explored in the lab through an ERC-funded Programme (Selby) in collaboration with the Mayo clinic.

An important aspect of the Section is the link and collaborative working with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust (LTHT). Key LTHT staff currently involved in our studies include Welberry-Smith and Lewington (Renal Medicine), Ahmad (Transplant Surgery), Lippiatt (Blood Sciences) Prasad, Bhattarai and Menon (Pathology), Kimuli and Cartledge (Urology). A key component to our studies is the availability of high quality clinical samples and associated data held within the Leeds Multidisciplinary RTB and the multicentre Leeds NIHR BioRTB (formed through an NIHR Biomarker Programme led by Selby) established by and with oversight responsibility from Banks and Selby.

The Leeds DEC (Selby) funded by NIHR is one of only five in the UK. It is a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and methodologists working with industry and patients to develop the networks and facilitate the research needed to evaluate diagnostic tests and provide the level of evidence needed for eventual adoption clinically. Case studies illustrating the breadth of activities and partners from many areas of the University and externally can be found online.

All academic staff in the Section contribute to teaching medical and science students at undergraduate and postgraduate level and MD and PhD students are an important component of the Section.

Groups

Professor Roz Banks (Head of Section)
Clinical and Biomedical Proteomics group

Professor Naveen Vusadev

Professor Peter Selby

Dr Alexandre Zougman