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Dr Kathryn Taylor wins Frederickson Prize for investigations into the role of zinc in cell biology and cancer growth

7 September 2022

researcher in the lab using microscope

In recognition of her achievements and contribution to zinc biological science, Dr Kathryn Taylor from Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has been awarded the 2022 International Society for Zinc Biology’s (ISZB) Frederickson Prize.

Dr Taylor’s research into the role of zinc in cell biology and human health spans decades and she has dedicated her research to better understanding how her scientific discoveries around zinc transporters can be applied to therapeutic solutions to combat human disease, especially cancer.

Although it had been widely known amongst scientists that zinc plays an essential role in the ability of the cell to divide and multiply, Dr Taylor led a team of researchers that discovered the mechanism that enables zinc to cause cell division. The team demonstrated that zinc needs to enter into every cell through specific zinc transporters which have to be activated, through a process called phosphorylation, before a cell can begin to divide. This was a key finding within the field of cell biology and cancer research.

Currently Dr Taylor’s team at Cardiff University is investigating whether blocking specific zinc transporters can prevent the zinc entering cells to drive cell division. This could prevent cancer cells from dividing and multiplying meaning the growth and spread of cancer could be significantly slowed down or even halted. As part of this research, Dr Taylor’s team has generated an antibody that can prevent cell division and is currently examining how this antibody could be a useful tool in future cancer treatment – particularly for cancers that are resistant to existing cancer therapies such as aggressive triple negative breast cancers.

Whilst in the early stages, it is hoped that Dr Taylor’s research will shortly go to clinical trials as it has the potential to offer therapeutic alternatives to cancers that are either impossible to treat with current therapeutics or are particularly aggressive.

Speaking of Dr Taylor as a worthy recipient of the Frederickson award, Christopher Frederickson from the ISZB noted, ‘It is a great honour for all of us at ISZB to have Dr Taylor receive the Frederickson prize.  She has been an important pioneer in the area of zinc transporters and the zinc pathways that control them. Her work points to the important drug possibilities to reduce breast cancer amongst other diseases.'

‘It is a real honour to receive this award in recognition of our work to identify and exploit the role of zinc in cell biology to help combat life-threatening disease. This field of scientific research deserves greater recognition with its potential to offer new, less-invasive therapies for future cancer patients.’
Dr Kathryn Taylor Principal Research Fellow

Founded in 2007, The International Society for Zinc Biology (ISZB) is the leading international non-profit organisation that brings together scientists from a diversity of fields with a common interest in the structural, biochemical, genetic and physiological aspects of zinc biology.

Dr Taylor’s most recent research findings can be found published in ‘The importance of targeting signalling mechanisms of the SLC39A family of zinc transporters to inhibit endocrine resistant breast cancer’ Explor Target Antitumor Ther. 2022 April 26; 3(2): 224–239. doi:10.37349/etat.2022.00080.

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