The CEGX Blog

06.09.2017

My internship at Cambridge Epigenetix - Shaping the future of epigenetic medicine

Will Bolton1-472164-edited.jpg This summer Cambridge Epigenetix has been joined by an intern, Will Bolton, a final year undergraduate studying biochemistry at Imperial College London. Here is Will’s blog of his experience.


Whist working at Cambridge Epigenetix, I have performed an extensive literature search and review of recent epigenetic publications. My work focused on a number of
cancer types as recommended by Dr Suman Shirodkar, Strategic Clinical Advisor. Recent research on these specific diseases indicates that there is great potential for methylation biomarkers to improve clinical outcomes through early diagnosis and so my aim was to map these findings.

I worked within the commercial team under the guidance of Dr Tiffany Morris. This is an exciting team composed of people from different scientific backgrounds such as bioinformatics and technology transfer. I also interacted with many other teams during my internship and thoroughly enjoyed learning from all of them. Jason Mellad, the CEO, is extremely passionate about the company and it was great to discuss with him the science and ambitions of the company.

My project required a systematic approach to identify publications from which useful information could be extracted. First, using Pubmed, an extensive number of search results was compiled. An initial review of these publications allowed me to identify the most relevant ones for further, more detailed analysis. Each remaining publication was ranked using a previously devised scoring test, which identified the reliability of the data and determined its relevance to Cambridge Epigenetix’s research goals. Using this methodology, exceptional papers were highlighted and significant results and clinical information were extracted. From this data, I compiled the results to present how the epigenetic landscape affects the clinical outcome of patients. Subsequently a discrete number of genes of particular interest were determined. This work resulted in the identification of a number of potential epigenetic biomarkers and their clinical relevance to the diseases in question.

The type and location of methylation impacts gene expression and DNA structure. Therefore, changes in methylation during disease progression can have a large clinical effect. By identifying multiple potential candidate biomarkers, Cambridge Epigenetix can focus future research towards a more comprehensive understanding of the epigenetic landscape of diseases of interest.

After completing my project, I reviewed and refined the process, scoring methodology and presentation of results. These changes will enable subsequent literature reviews to be carried out in a more efficient manner and provide clear conclusions. Tiffany provided me with support throughout my project and said that my work has developed an excellent platform for the company to build on.

During my internship, I have also had the opportunity to experience Cambridge Epigenetix’s state-of-the-art laboratory and the amazing work that goes on behind the scenes to bring new technologies to life. After attending many meetings, discussing possible ventures and ongoing collaborations, I have enhanced my understanding of how innovative biotechnology companies operate, grow and remain competitive in a very dynamic field.

Cambridge Epigenetix has a very attractive future through using their cutting-edge platform technologies to progress their internal biomarker development programs and partnering with leading institutions and companies. They are also pioneering the field of epigenetic diagnosis from liquid biopsy (LQB) samples. These biomarkers will advance personalised medicine to greatly improve patient-specific treatment.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here; it has been great fun and I am very proud of the work I have produced and how it will help support Cambridge Epigenetix’s biomarker discovery programmes. My ambitions are to now finish my BSc in biochemistry, progress into postgraduate education and, ultimately, to work in the exciting field of biotechnology.

Author

Will Bolton