Erithelgi graduated in 2014 from the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Patras, Greece. From her early years of studies, she knew that she wanted to work in cancer research.
Neuroblastoma is the most common extra-cranial solid cancer in childhood and the most common cancer in infancy. We know something about the genes, which drive this particular cancer, but much less about how they do this. The product of one of these genes is an enzyme called “Alk kinase”, for which there are some reasonable drugs that inhibit its activity. However, patients acquire resistance to these drugs; therefore it is desirable to identify other targets, which may cooperate with Alk. This would offer the opportunity to treat patients with a “double whammy” cocktail, to which it is more difficult to acquire resistance.
Erithelgi’s project aims to identify such factors using sophisticated cell models of neuroblastoma together with a mass spectrometry instrument, which we use to tease out molecular signatures related to excessive Alk activity.
Follow-up work will then centre around how they can use this information to design new drugs or evaluate prognosis. The project represents a new collaboration between a basic science group led by Profs Michael Clague and Sylvie Urbé, together with clinical input from Prof. Barry Pizer based at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.