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Non-coding RNAs Group

Unit(s) of assessment: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy

Research theme: Health and Wellbeing

School: School of Science and Technology


Dr Polytarchous is an Associate Professor whose group aims to unveil the role of non-coding RNAs in inflammation and cancer. His research also falls under the 2nd pillar of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre research themes: Deciphering the structure and function of the tumour microenvironment and how it influences cancer initiation, progression and therapeutic response.

Current areas of interest include:

Decoding the 'dark matter' of cancer

decoding the dark matter of cancer information table
Human genes transcribed into non-coding RNAs occupy the majority of the genome. Once considered as biological ‘darker matter’, non-coding RNAs are now being recognised as critical regulators of the cancer genome.

High content analysis of patient samples informs experimental approaches employing human cells and animal models to study the regulation of gene networks and signalling pathways by microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs. Overactive non-coding RNAs involved in intestinal inflammation and cancer, due to their tissue and disease specificity, are evaluated as biomarkers and targeted for the development of new safe and effective therapies.


Dr Polytarchou collaborates with scientists and researchers in the Americas and Europe (Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, University of California Los Angeles, University of Alberta, Leiden Medical Centre, University of Ioannina, University of Patras, University of Nottingham).


Akt3 induces oxidative stress and DNA damage by activating the NADPH oxidase via phosphorylation of p47 phox . Polytarchou C, Hatziapostolou M, Yau TO, Christodoulou N, Hinds PW, Kottaskis F, Sanidas I, Tsichlis PN. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 117(46): 28806-28815. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2017830117. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

A microRNA signature in pediatric ulcerative colitis: deregulation of the miR-4284/CXCL5 pathway in the intestinal epithelium. Koukos G, Polytarchou C, Kaplan JL, Oikonomopoulos A, Ziring D, Hommes DW, Wahed R, Kokkotou E, Pothoulakis C, Winter HD, Iliopoulos D. (2015). Inflamm Bowel Dis. 21(5):996-1005. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000339.

Lin28A and Lin28B inhibit let-7 microRNA biogenesis by distinct mechanisms. Piskounova E, Polytarchou C, Thornton JE, LaPierre RJ, Pothoulakis C, Hagan JP, Iliopoulos D, Gregory RI. (2011). Cell 147(5):1066-79. Doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.039.


The laboratories of Dr Polytarchou house the following equipment:

1. S220 Focused-Ultrasonicator from Covaris: delivers controlled energy precisely and accurately to sample volumes ranging from 15 μl to 18 ml.

2. CFX384 Real-Time PCR detection system from Bio-Rad: rapid data acquisition, ideal for performing high-throughput real-time PCR in a 384-well format.

3. Bio-Plex Multiplex Immunoassay System from Bio-Rad: Quantification of over 500 different protein and peptide targets simultaneously in a single sample. High-throughput and sensitive assays enabling the acquisition of high-quality data.

We also have access within the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre to instrumentation to facilitate multi-omic analyses including gene expression micro-array, Nanostring platform, mass spectrometers and laser capture microdissection.