As previewed last month, our new team of undergraduate researchers have recently appeared in the laboratory. You can see from the big smiles that they are just getting started – it will all get much harder over the next couple of months. More and more is being written in the news media about ‘Gene Editing’ using a brand new science called CRISPR. As you know we have been carrying out these experiments with Charity Soul support for a couple of years now – so we are working as we promised at the ‘cutting edge’ of cancer science.

Somehow cutting edge is very appropriate for CRISPR, as we delve into the 20,000 genes to cut apart just one. Remember what the team is seeking to do: to find the essential genes in cancer stem cells, getting rid of all of the noise caused by treatments for example.


At the moment, the team (Left to right: Sarah, Matt, Nicole, Beth and Tash – the fat ‘older person’ on the far left is still me) are being taught the new skills they will need to do the big experiments. We made a list of these, and counted about nineteen different procedures. Everyone in my Unit is getting involved and passing on their knowledge to our 5 apprentice clippers. We’re now using Third or Fourth generation technology (it moves almost as quickly as mobile phones) to achieve our ultimate aim of cutting out genes in stem cells from real human patients. Challenging… Yes, Exciting…. Most certainly.

As they progress I’ll keep you up to date.

Prof Norman J Maitland
Director of The Cancer Research Unit
University of York