Catrin Pritchard is a professor of cancer biochemistry in the Leicester Cancer Research Centre, with research focusing on preclinical cancer models.
Professor Pritchard’s research is focussed on the use of two different preclinical cancer models for drug and biomarker discovery; tumour explants and genetically engineered mouse models.
The group have optimised conditions for the ex vivo culture of fragments of human tumours as patient derived explants (PDEs) without the requirement for tumour deconstruction. PDEs have the advantage over other preclinical models in that tumour architecture is retained intact, making them amenable to the testing of agents that target the tumour microenvironment including immune checkpoint inhibitors. The group works with commercial organisations and translational charities to test the efficacy of novel anti-cancer agents in development and are applying digital pathology solutions at endpoint to identify and validate predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers. Their approach is being applied to a wide range of human primary and metastatic cancers including breast, colorectal, lung, endometrial, renal cancers as well as melanoma and mesothelioma.
The group uses genetically engineered mouse models to better understand mechanisms of tumour development driven by oncogenic BRAF and RAS. Most of their work has focussed on using these models as tools for understanding the contribution of the tumour microenvironment to tumour initiation and progression, with an emphasis on lung adenocarcinoma and colorectal cancer development. Their work has unravelled novel secreted factors that play key roles in regulating cell-cell interactions in the tumour microenvironment and an impact of cholesterol metabolism on tumour associated macrophage function.