Research In Brief

Our gut bacteria- are they the key to unlocking the next generation of effective cancer treatments

The Microbiome

Our body contains 10-100 trillion microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, living within us. The majority exist within the gut but others can be found throughout the body including inside cancer cells. Bacteria living inside cancer cells may strongly influence how well cancer treatment works. It may be possible to introduce ‘good’ bacteria through the diet and improve cancer treatments without significant side effects.

Live Viruses to kill cancer

Numerous reports dating back over 100 years, described how patients with cancer developed various viral infections,  found the cancer had resolved or shrunk after infection. Viruses are capable of powerful cancer killing, which is very specific for cancer and spares normal healthy cells. The Surrey Uni team helped develop one of the first cancer killing or ‘oncolytic’ virus as a treatment (called TVEC),  and this is now available in the NHS for the treatment of skin cancer. New viruses ae being developed and medical trials undertaken  by the Surrey team.

Fundraising request

The team needs £100k for this research, to cover costs of laboratory reagents and equipment including computers and software capable of handling very large amounts of date the project will generate

We are urgently seeking funding for our lead research program. This investigates how we may be able to alter the bacteria we know live inside cancer cells, and improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs. Bacteria and other microorganisms inside cancer cells is collectively known as the ‘cancer microbiome’ and is one of the hottest areas in cancer medicine at this time.

Vital lab equipment needs updating - FUNDING REQUEST FOR A MACSQUANT 16

In order to determine how immune cells in the body are responding to a patients cancer, or the effect of immunotherapy, we can examine individual immune cells by taking a simple blood sample from a patient. We can compare with a volunteer’s blood who does not have cancer. As shown below, from a blood sample, immune cells are labelled with dyes and run through a machine called a ‘flow cytometer’. This powerful technology analyses thousands immune cells quickly, and gives us detailed information as to whether anti-cancer immune responses are happening, and if so, how good these responses are.

We urgently need to upgrade from our original machine which is now 10 years old, and has been the work horse of our lab. We need to move to the new version , the MACs Quant 16, which allows us a much more detailed and much faster analysis.

The cost of the new MACS Quant 16 is £140,000 which includes servicing and support by technicians.



Research In Detail

Meet the research team based at the University of Surrey and see what we are doing to beat cancer with immunotheropy.

The Urological Oncology group in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey has 24 members with an extensive range of experience, from laboratory-based projects involving basic cell and molecular biology to the delivery of clinical trials in human cancers. The group is supported by the infrastructure required to undertake complex, multi-disciplinary studies. A particular strength of the team is the acquisition of patient samples (after suitable ethical approval) and this is partly due to the strong links with the local Royal Surrey County Hospital and the neighbouring St Luke’s Cancer Centre.

The group has an established track record for the supervision of MD and PhD students and has published an impressive 110 original peer reviewed papers since arriving at Surrey. The group has an active portfolio of phase I, II and III trials in new cancer therapies (small molecule inhibitors, cancer vaccine, viral and gene therapy). The oncology group has also received support from the Prostate Project, Breast Cancer Campaign, the Skin Cancer Research Fund, the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Foundation and the British Lung Foundation.

Oncology Team




Dr Nicola Annels
BSc, PhD


Dr Guy Simpson
BSc, PhD

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Dr Kate Relph
BSc, PhD


Dr Agnieska Michael
MBBS (Warw) MRCP PhD (Lond)


Professor Hardev Pandha - Cancer Immunotherapy History

Dr Nicola Annels - Understanding Cancer-immune biology

Dr Agnieszka Michael - Introduction on immunotherapy trials in ovarian and kidney cancer

Dr Panagiotis Koliou - Immunotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer and melanoma

Lizzie Young - Immunotherapy Clinical Nurse Specialist

Dr Einthavy Arunachalam - Immune mediated therapies in the treatment of Prostate cancer

Dr Charles Rayner - Immunotherapy treatment in Oesophageal cancer

Tyler Wooldridge - The tumour micro environment in early non-muscle invasive bladder cancer

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