THE BLOG

Scientists Are Treating Cancer With Bubbles

26/10/2016 14:25 | Updated 27 October 2016

Call me nerdy if you want, but I think science is awesome.

Beating cancer and helping others can be a huge motivator for scientists like me, but for many of us, it's also the journey into the unknown, the technical challenge, the never-ceasing wonder that attracts us to a career in science.

I've been speaking to so many scientists who are finding elegant solutions to complex problems, and develop technologies that, quite frankly, sound like science fiction for Stand Up To Cancer: The Podcast series.

In the latest episode, Amazing Science, there is our first dose of the mind blowing trials we'll cover in this series.

Professor Eleanor Stride from the University of Oxford, along with her colleagues Professors Anne Kiltie and Boris Vojnovic, has set the ambitious goal of transforming chemotherapy.

Listen to Prof Eleanor Stride talk about how her team is beating cancer with bubbles

Chemotherapy is an umbrella term for a huge array of powerful drugs that kill fast-growing cells. This makes it very good at killing cancer because the diseases are made up of fast-growing and out-of-control cells. Unfortunately, as you'll hear in this podcast, chemo is also something of a blunt instrument. Because the drugs flood indiscriminately around the body, healthy cells can get damaged - sometimes causing severe side-effects.

This Oxford-based team hope to turn chemo from an effective but imprecise tool, into a highly accurate cancer-killing weapon. Their plans had Kirstie and I spellbound (to be precise, Kirstie was in awe and I was like an embarrassing fanboy).

I would describe it as a privilege to explain their research, I sometimes call myself a science translator. However, this can lead to the hours of tenacity and resilience shown by our incredible scientists to get lost in translation and I want to acknowledge that here.

Truth be told, science is very hard. It can even seem like trial by failure. It's common to work very long and sometimes lonely hours. When I was based in the labs it felt like nine experiments failed for every one that worked. This makes science slow, frustrating and sometimes defeating. To be a good scientist you need to be creative and curious, but above all, you need to be resilient.

All of this renews my admiration for the incredible scientists that we spoke to whilst recording these podcasts. They not only overcome immense intellectual and technical obstacles every day in the pursuit of helping their fellow humans, but they also produce science that can take your breath away.

Listen and subscribe to the podcast on AudioBoom, Spotify, iTunes or with RSS on your favourite podcast player.

PS: You may have spotted me on the shiny stage with Alan Carr on the Channel 4 Stand Up To Cancer live show on Oct 21st explaining this trial, and giving a nod to the dream team behind it. The great news is that at the point of this publication, we’ve raised over £15M to fund life-saving cancer research and trials. Join our rebellion against cancer, head to standuptocancer.org.uk/ways-to-donate

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