Symud at y prif gynnwys

Meet the researcher - Darius McPhail

Darius McPhail is a Cancer Research Wales PhD student who is currently being funded for work at Cardiff University to study rare brain tumours to better understand how the immune system affects cancer development. We asked him a series of questions to learn more about his life-changing work and the reasons behind his studies.

1. What area of cancer research do you focus on?

Our work focuses on a rare genetic disease called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). Patients with this disease typically present with multiple tumours which grow all over the body. My research focuses on the brain tumours of these patients, and how these might be used to study other cancerous brain tumours. Specifically, I focus on the role that the immune system and inflammation play in the development of these brain tumours.

2. What is your Cancer Research Wales project aiming to do in this area?

The current treatment for TSC patients is effective at shrinking tumours, however it does not clear the tumours completely, and the tumours will eventually regrow. Also, TSC patients typically present with neuropsychiatric disorders which are resistant to the current main treatments, such as epilepsy. I am aiming to investigate how we might use anti-inflammatory drugs to more effectively reduce tumour growth in TSC patients, as well as target some of the other symptoms such as epilepsy. I am also aiming to observe how TSC effects brain development.

3. Have there been any key achievements so far during the project?

Excitingly, we have identified a set of proteins which are significantly dysregulated within the cells of TSC patients. Targeting these proteins has shown positive effects on how these diseased cells behave. This may pave the way to new therapeutic targets which may improve the treatment of tumours and epilepsy in TSC patients. These findings would not be possible without the continued support of Cancer Research Wales.

4. How might your research make a difference to cancer patients in Wales?

While our research mainly focuses on TSC, the results we are finding are likely applicable to cancer patients in Wales, as TSC may function as an effective model for various types of cancer. By continuing to support research for projects such as mine, I believe that Cancer Research Wales is a crucial aspect of the development for new cancer therapeutics in Wales.

5. Why/how did you become a Cancer Research Wales researcher?

There are a few reasons. I have family and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer, and this contributed to my interest in the topic of cancer research. I have also lived in Wales for a number of years now, and very much enjoy living here. In general, I hope to contribute to research that would make a difference to the lives of cancer patients. Cancer Research Wales has kindly supported this goal of mine through the funding of my PhD research project in Cardiff University.

6. Do you have any personal connection to cancer (relatives/friends etc)?

Unfortunately, I do have a personal connection to family and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. While this is the case, there is a lot of excellent research being funded by Cancer Research Wales, and through this I am hopeful that we will see progressively effective treatments emerging within my lifetime.

7. Is there anything you would like to say to our supporters?

I would like to thank all who support Cancer Research Wales. Cancer is an incredibly complex disease with often devastating effects, but the ongoing support of fundraisers is a huge component of our research. This research will unearth new and effective treatments for those living with cancer.