Amir is currently a research associate at CRUK Cambridge institute. His research is focused on understanding the ageing process and cancer risk. One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime imposing on society enormous human and fiscal costs. This statistic does not fare better worldwide and it is estimated that cancer incidence rates will continue to increase over the next two to three decades. While treatments and detection methods have improved, the persistence of cancer means that prevention strategies are desperately needed.
Amir's lab has recently shown that stem cells which have the innate capacity to become any type of cell across the body, give birth to cancers, but that stem cells in neonates are intrinsically resistant to cancer relative to those in adults. Remarkably, this trend follows in all organs that are susceptible to cancer, suggesting that there is a common biological process in neonatal stem cells that protects them against cancer formation. The implication of this finding is that if we can understand the specific mechanisms that protect neonates from getting cancer, we would be able to reactivate these mechanisms in adults, reducing cancer risk and therefore incidence. This provides a powerful preventative approach to cancer.
His research is focused on identifying and understanding this protective mechanism. He is building a comprehensive atlas of ageing in 12 organs and using machine learning to truly understand cellular behaviour over life. Using this approach they are now learning how complex biological networks dictate cellular behaviour and are beginning to identify key processes such as the protective mechanism embedded in neonatal development.