Professor Anton Gartner and his team are trying to identify the molecular machinery that cells use to repair damage caused by cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug. By doing this they hope it will lead to better ways to identify patients that would benefit the most from the drug.
Anton Gartner is a professor at Dundee university, where he and his lab are working with tiny worms to uncover biological mechanisms. Anton enjoys cycling, the outdoors and has a healthy obsession with renewable energy technology.
Cisplatin is a widely used chemotherapy drug that works by damaging the DNA of cells to the extent that the cell cannot repair itself and dies. However, even after successful treatment, cancers often return because some of the cancer cells are able to repair the damage caused by cisplatin and survive.
Anton is using the microscopic nematode worm C. elegans to test how cisplatin interacts with DNA and what happens once damage is induced. These worms are a useful model because they contain only around 1000 cells and their genetics are very well understood. This means the team can easily study the changes that occur to DNA following cisplatin in a whole organism.
You might argue that worms look different from humans, but the genomes are very much related. More than half the genes in C. elegans have a human equivalent.Professor Anton Gartner