Andrew Clive Riches


  • KY16 9TF

    United Kingdom

Personal profile

Research overview

My research has focussed on a number of areas in cancer research. These include:

Interdisciplinary research with the School of Physics & Astronomy (biophotonics collaboration). We have exploited the use of novel laser beams to introduce genes into individual cells, to move cells and thus sort them in a laser beam and finally to use a laser beam to identify normal and cancer cells using their molecular signature.

An interest in how cells regulate their proliferation and how this might change in cancer. In particular I have studied the blood forming tissues and defined how stem cells, the precursor cells for blood cells, are regulated and how this might change in leukaemia.

Investigations on cancer predisposition in breast and prostate cancer. In collaboration with Dr. Peter Bryant and clinical colleagues in Ninewells Hospital, we have been trying to find out why specific patients develop cancer. This involves growing blood samples in the laboratory and measuring how their chromosomes respond to damage. Many patients with breast or prostate cancer show an increased sensitivity to damage which may explain why they go on to develop a cancer.

Studying how normal human cells change into cancer cells. In order to investigate this process in the laboratory. I have been able to grow normal human breast and prostate cells from normal individuals in the laboratory so I expose these cells to carcinogens, for example radiation, which damages these cells and turns them into cancer cells. We can thus study the changes that take place in a controlled way.

Normal cells and cancer cells secrete small particles called exosomes. We are studying these in patients with bladder cancer and in human cancer cells in cell culture in order to see whether these can be used for diagnostic purposes.

I currently am not offering any postgraduate or undergraduate projects.

Research interests

Interdisciplinary research.

I am using advanced photonic techniques (biophotonics collaboration) to apply to problems in the medical sciences to image cancer cells, to sort cells and to porate cells. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Prof. Kishan Dholakia in the School of Physics & Astronomy. Raman spectroscopy has been particularly useful in defining molecular fingerprints of cells and has enabled us to distinguish between normal and tumour cells in the bladder, lung and the cervix. Using novel optical systems we have also been able to develop simple sorting systems without flow and have sorted stem cells, lymphocytes and leukaemic cells. Lasers have also proved useful in porating cells and provided a new way of targeting genes into cells.  Current work is focussing on translating the Raman studies into the clinic and in collaboration with Mr. Chris Goodman and Mr. Greg Kata from the Urology Department at Ninewells Hospital. Raman spectroscopy is being used to identify bladder cancer cells in urine samples. A Cancer Imaging Programme is funded by the CR-UK/EPSRC/MRC/NIHR to Professor Herrington, Dholakia, Riches & Samuel.

Human carcinogenesis.

Breast cancer risk.

Projects are being undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Douglas Adamson, a consultant oncologist at Ninewells Hospital. We have previously shown that a much higher proportion of women with breast cancer exhibit an increased radiosensitivity of their peripheral blood lymphocytes than a control population. It is thought that this might reflect a DNA repair defect in these women who are thus more susceptible to development of breast cancer. Current work is investigating the role of topoisomerase IIa in chromosomal sensitivity.

Carcinogenesis studies using human epithelial cells..

I have developed a model to study the mechanisms of radiation induced carcinogenesis in human epithelial cells. The cells are irradiated in vitro and tumour cell lines produced. A number of cell lines immortalised following insertion of the catalytic sub-unit of the telomerase gene are being utilised. These 'telomerised' lines retain a diploid karyotype and appear to be immortal. The aim of the study is to identify genes involved in radiation carcinogenesis. The work involves collaboration with groups in Munich. Cell lines have been developed from human mammary epithelial cells from normal and individuals with a BRCA1 mutation in collaboration with Marta Reis and Professor Alastair Thompson at Ninewells Hospital and human prostate epithelial cells in collaboration with Mr. Chris Goodman and Mr.Greg Kata in the Urology Department of Ninewells Hospital. These cell lines are also being used in collaborative studies with Dr. Gordon McDougall at the Scottish Crop Research Institute to investigate the role of plant polyphenols on normal and tumour cells.

Haematopoiesis and leukaemogenesis.

Normal haematopoiesis is regulated by a series of feedback loops, which control cellular proliferation from the haematopoietic stem cell compartment to the differentiated, proliferating blast cell compartment. Regulation within the stem cell complex is being investigated using in vitro clonal assays. We have identified the  importance of a novel peptide (AcSDKP) in this regulatory loop and its relevance to changes in leukaemia. We have defined a possible new regulatory pathway in haematopoiesis involving angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) and AcSDKP. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Joanna Wdzieczak-Bakala at the Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles, CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette.

Exosomes in cancer.

These small particles are secreted by both normal and cancer cells and both modify the immune response and have the potential as tumour markers. Studies are in progress with Dr. Simon Powis to investigate the properties of tumour derived exosomes from tumour cells in vitro and from bladder cancer patients

Academic/Professional Qualification

M.Sc., Radiobiology, University of Birmingham; Ph.D., Experimental Haematology, University of Birmingham; B.Sc., Physics, University of Birmingham; FRCPath, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists; FAS, Fellowship of the Anatomical Society

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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