Research projects

Understanding the role of mutation interactions in oesophageal cancer

Dr Maria Alcolea
Project period
Mar 2023 - Feb 2025
Research Institute
University of Cambridge
Cancer types
Oesophageal cancer
Award amount

Project aim

Dr Maria Alcolea is exploring new ways to prevent oesophageal cancer by learning more about the tumour microenvironment and the interactions between different mutations in cancer cells.

Hope for the future

Oesophageal cancer is the 8th most common cancer worldwide, and the 6th most common cause of cancer death around the world. It is a cancer of unmet need, with poor survival rates and limited treatment options, partly because it is difficult to diagnose early on.

Dr Maria Alcolea and her team at the University of Cambridge are striving to improve the survival rates of oesophageal cancer by understanding how this disease first emerges.


Dr Maria Alcolea and her team striking a fun pose Dr Maria Alcolea and her team

Meet the scientist

Dr Alcolea’s  partner is also a scientist in the same field of research, and they share the same scientific dreams and aspirations. They have two amazing children who are Dr Alcolea’s inspiration and give her the boost of energy needed to keep motivated. 

When she is not working, her hobby is cooking. She is Spanish and loves to indulge in fresh cooked food - her favourite is seafood!

The science

For a while now scientists have understood that cancer cells grow because of mutations accumulating in our DNA. Recently the team in Cambridge had an exciting new idea that it might not be the mutations themselves that cause cancer, but actually interactions between the mutations.

Dr Maria Alcolea and her team now plan to use a multidisciplinary approach, including the use of new 3D cell culture models, to investigate how different mutations together form an environment that supports tumour development. They hope to shed light on new ways to prevent and treat oesophageal cancer by understanding what is happening at a cellular level in the early stages of cancer growth. 

Dr Maria Alcolea
The work funded by Worldwide Cancer Research is leading the way to improve the prognosis of cancer patients, and aims at preventing the development of cancer altogether. In my laboratory we share this dream, and the realization of this dream would not be possible without the incredibly generous support of Curestarters.

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