UT doctoral student searches for solution to reduce side-effects and dosage of cancer drugs

The aim of the research work of doctoral student Anne-Mari Anton Willmore, who is conducting her research in the UT cancer biology research group, is to reduce the side-effects and dosage of cancer drugs. She received a 5,000 euro scholarship from the Valda and Bernard Õun memorial fund of the UT Foundation to work on her research and doctoral thesis.

Anne-Mari Anton Willmore’s main topic of study is the optimisation and characterisation of the synthesis process of silver nanoparticles and functionalising the particles and testing the application possibilities. The more narrow application for the particles is in cancer research.

“Short protein sequences which identify cancer cells have been attached to the nanoparticles. By adding fluorescent tags to these particles and injecting them in the blood, it is possible to visualise only cancer cells. In a way the particles work as model drugs. By replacing the fluorescent tags on the particles with cancer drugs, the cancer specificity of the complex remains but the side effects of the drug and its effective dosage should decrease,” described Anton Willmore.

According to Anton Willmore it is important to find the suitable drug or drugs for each patient. “This in turn presumes that as much information as possible is acquired about the patient’s tumour. This type of particle platform, to which it is easy to add various cancer-specific peptides or combinations of peptides and drugs, creates an excellent advantage for that,” said the doctoral student.

The doctoral student of UT Faculty of Medicine is confident that her research work will broaden the opportunities for cooperation between science and medicine: “The close interaction of the doctors at UT Hospital and UT researchers creates the perfect environment for testing research achievements quickly and taking them to the patients.”

The committee of the Valda and Bernard Õun scholarship, which included UT Professor of Molecular Immunology Pärt Peterson, Head of UT Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology Toivo Maimets and Professor of Immunology Raivo Uibo, considered the inter-faculty approach, use of nanoparticles in cancer treatment and outstanding publications as the strengths of the laureate.

Pärt Peterson admitted that making the decision was difficult this year because there were many great applications: “The final choice was Anne-Mari Willmore’s work as her high-level research work fascinated by combining various fields of biomedicine and developing solutions in cancer research and treatment. Research work on tumours definitely needs more attention in Estonia.”

The basic capital of the UT Foundation’s Valda and Bernard Õun memorial fund is formed of the 500,000 euro donation allocated to the foundation in the will of Valda Õun. The aim of the fund is to recognise the research of UT master’s and doctoral students in the area of biomedicine.

Additional information
Anne-Mari Anton Willmore, UT doctoral student of biomedicine, Anne-Mari.Anton.Willmore@ut.ee
Pärt Peterson, UT Professor of Molecular Immunology, representative of the donator’s family, 737 4202, part.peterson@ut.ee

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