PhD Student – Fatima Qadir

Image courtesy of ponsulak at

Update: Fatima Qadir has successfully submitted her final thesis in May 2018 at Queen Mary, University of London.

– Read Fatima’s final PhD report here.

Biomarker Study on Oral Cancer Exosomes

March 2015

Project supervised by Dr Muy-Teck Teh and Dr Ahmad Waseem

Mouth cancer affects over 7,000 persons in the UK each year and is on the increase. 5-year survival rates are very low ~20-30% because of late cancer detection. Currently, cancer diagnosis is based on visual examination of suspicious oral lesions by clinicians. Biopsies are then taken to confirm the diagnosis by the visual detection of abnormal tissue architecture under the microscope by pathologists. With this technique it can be notoriously difficult to identify precancerous lesions that will transform into cancer.

The current study aims to develop a highly sensitive and non-invasive test that can detect early mouth cancer. This technique will reassure those patients with low cancer risk and reduce their need for intensive surveillance, whilst identifying those at high risk and ensuring earlier cancer detection and treatment.

Cancer cells send out packages of information to neighbouring and distant cells. These packages of information are called exosomes which contain genes within them. They are released and circulated in all bodily fluids such as saliva and blood. We aim to purify these exosomes from saliva and identify cancer biomarkers within them to enable us to use them for detecting mouth cancer at early stages. Such a non-invasive saliva test for detecting early cases of mouth cancer may potentially revolutionise cancer diagnosis and improve patient survival.