New researchers to help tackle devastating brain tumours

Gliomas are a range of devastating and progressive brain tumours – responsible for the majority of deaths from primary brain tumours, and affecting around 25,000 people each year in Europe. 

Now the University of Plymouth has taken the next step towards tackling the problem by recruiting three new researchers to investigate different project areas. 

Plymouth is one of nine research institutes and three private sector organisations in Project AiPBAND (An Integrated Platform for Developing Brain Cancer Diagnostics Techniques), with its mission to improve technologies for the early diagnosis of brain tumours using molecular biomarkers in the blood. 

The project is co-ordinated by Dr Xinzhong Li, Lecturer in Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics in the University of Plymouth’s Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed), and funded under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme as a Marie Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN).

What is AiPBAND?

Li and his team's research brings together big data, diagnosis software, and artificial intelligence with biology and biomolecular science, intending to develop new methods and equipment for earlier detection of brain tumours.

Visit the AiPBAND website for regular project status updates

Birbal Prasad is the first new addition to the team, who will be developing and applying novel system analysis and artificial intelligence approaches to discover biomarkers for brain cancer. He will be using a machine learning model to investigate and discover the most appropriate biomarkers for brain cancer diagnosis. 

The second new researcher is Mina Safarzadeh, who will be developing a simple and inexpensive biosensor for quantitative detection of DNA methylation markers, together with the required onboard electronics and data process. DNA methylation plays key roles in gene expression and regulation, and scientists have linked abnormal methylation to various devastating outcomes. The project will incorporate sensor fabrication, chemistry and protocols already developed by the group, and DNA methylation detection techniques developed elsewhere into the new sensing regime. She will be supervised by Professor Genhua Pan, Associate Head of School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics. 

Aira Patrice Rueda Ong is the third new researcher, who will be responsible for the development of an innovative and sustainable AiPBAND business model to underpin effective business strategy development and commercial section. Aira will investigate relationships between business model qualifying factors (such as value, cost structure, potential revenue sources) and enabling factors (including entrepreneurial attributes, market uptake evaluation, business dynamics and sustainability) so that the innovative AiPBAND business model will be market-oriented, resilient and robust to guide business strategy development. She will be supervised by Professor Shaofeng Liu, one of the supervisors of the AiPBAND project, based in the Faculty of Business.

Dr Xinzhong Li, whose work takes place in the University’s Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence, said: 

“It’s fantastic that we’ve recruited these new researchers to AiPBAND. The project’s main aim is to continue our aim to futureproof research into brain tumours by creating a whole new generation of researchers, and we have a great environment here at Plymouth to do that. Working alongside our international partners, this is a really game-changing project, and we are very grateful to the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 – Research and Innovation Framework Programme for this funding.”

Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed)

Bringing together scientists, clinicians and expertise from across the spectrum of scientific discovery, medical research and health technology.

Home to the University of Plymouth’s world-class biomedical, clinical and applied health research.

Find out more about ITSMed and our research

Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence

Around 16,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour. We're working with Brain Tumour Research to improve research and treatment. Brain Tumour Research is an official charity partner of the University and we are one of four universities in the UK working with the charity to improve the treatment and outcomes of brain tumours. Plymouth’s Centre of Excellence specialises in low-grade brain tumours, which are usually benign, slow-growing but ultimately can become malignant. Our focus is to identify and understand the mechanism underlying the development of brain tumours, and explore ways to halt or reverse that mechanism. 

More information about the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence