Professor Caroline Springer leads a multidisciplinary team called Gene and Oncogene Targeting within the Division of Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). Her work focuses on the discovery of a wide range of novel therapeutics.
After completing her PhD in biological chemistry at University College London, Professor Springer began work at the ICR on the novel ADEPT (antibody-directed enzyme prodrug therapy) treatment designed to target tumours selectively. The target tumour was colorectal carcinoma and this work led to four ADEPT clinical trials at Charing Cross, Royal Free and University College London Hospitals in London.
Professor Springer developed gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT), a suicide gene therapy treatment that can be used in a wide range of cancer types. This work is now coming to fruition clinically with a Cancer Research UK sponsored GDEPT clinical trial in head and neck cancers, scheduled to start in The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, in 2012.
Professor Springer is currently investigating several different therapeutic approaches with Cancer Research UK and Wellcome Trust funding. Recently, this has included research into lysyl oxidase inhibitors, an enzyme that is important in invasion and metastasis. The goal is to prevent and treat metastases in a range of tumour types. This work is in collaboration with Professor Richard Marais and Dr Janine Erler.
Four series of LOX inhibitors were developed following a large high throughput screen and work has begun in lead optimisation with two series of inhibitors.
A key area of research has been to discover inhibitors of mutant BRAF, which will be used for treatment for some types of melanoma and colorectal cancers. This work is in collaboration with Professor Richard Marais.
Two preclinical BRAF candidates have recently been selected and work is ongoing to select the best one to take forward for a melanoma clinical trial at The Royal Marsden Hospital.