A SCIENTIST at the University of Essex is helping to make a breakthrough in the treatment of two cancers.

An international research project involving collaborating scientists is offering potential for treatment of lung and bladder cancer.

Both forms of the disease are smoking-related and have high death rates due to their potential to spread.

Now, the research team, led by Imperial College London, has been trying to better understand both forms.

It has been looking at why these specific cancers are more likely to spread and are resistant to therapy.

Part of the group is Dr Filippo Prischi, from Essex University’s School of Life Sciences.

Through looking at the molecules of the two cancers, the team has revealed a specific protein called RSK4 has been found in these cancer samples, more than compared to normal ones.

Up until this point, there have been few studies on RSK4, with limited knowledge about it.

Dr Prischi said: “We found RSK4 played a key role in protecting the cancer cells, with the knock-on effect of making them less sensitive to chemotherapy.

“So, by targeting RSK4 we could find a new way of treating patients with lung and bladder cancer.”

Dr Prischi is leading research to increase understanding of how RSK4 works in the cell.

He is joined by Dr Olivier Pardo and Professor Michael Seckl from Imperial College London, who are investigating how best to use these results to develop effective lung and bladder cancer treatments.

The study found the drug and antibiotic Trovafloxacin was a key RSK4 inhibitor.

As a result, using it led to better results when combined with chemotherapy.

Dr Prischi added: “Our data suggests using Trovafloxacin in combination with chemotherapy may provide benefits to patients suffering from lung and bladder cancer.

“We now want to test these theories in clinical trials to make our results beneficial to patients.

“Lung and bladder cancers are mostly incurable but our research is offering real hope to the further development of drugs to treat these diseases.”