University of Leicester scientist takes cancer biomarker research to Parliament

Research into a potential new biomarker for cancer by a postgraduate student at the University of Leicester is to be presented to politicians.

Tumie Ntereke, a PhD student at the Leicester Cancer Research Centre at the University, is attending Parliament to present her biosciences research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of STEM for BRITAIN on Monday 6 March.

Tumie’s poster on her cancer research will be judged against dozens of other scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind. She was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.

Her PhD project explored the contents or cargo of small vesicles called exosomes that are released by cells including cancer cells and might provide a new type of blood-based biomarker. She compared these exosomes in women with breast cancer with those from healthy females as controls.  

At the STEM for Britain event, Tumie will be showcasing a key finding from her PhD research project, which shows that exosomal DNA cargo shows more tumour related copy number alterations than the more common biomarker cell free DNA and so might help in monitoring patients with breast cancer. This finding shows that exosomes potentially have increased specificity over the main current liquid biopsy analyte – circulating free DNA.

On presenting her research in Parliament, Tumie said: “I’m excited to present my research at such a prestigious event! We do amazing research here at Leicester and I am thrilled that I get to represent the University and my research group at STEM for Britain to showcase our exciting liquid biopsy research.”

Professor Jacqui Shaw from the Leicester Cancer Research Centre, who is Tumie’s lead supervisor, said: “I am delighted that Tumie has been selected to present at STEM for Britain and showcase her exciting liquid biopsy research. Tumie is an exceptionally talented postgraduate researcher, a great ambassador of our PGR community and a passionate advocate for Black in Cancer with Cancer Research UK.”

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said:

“This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. 

“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for BRITAIN is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Tumie’s research has been entered into the biosciences session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.

Judged by leading academics, each winner will receive a cash prize with a medal for the gold recipient.

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Biology, The Physiological Society, the Nutrition Society and the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, with sponsorship from Dyson Ltd, Clay Mathematics Institute, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, AWE, British In Vitro Diagnostics Association, the Society of Chemical Industry, Institute of Biomedical Science, the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, and the Biochemical Society.