Education & Certifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manchester (2009)
  • Master of Pharmacy (MPharm), University of Nottingham (2003)


All Publications

  • Evaluating the Efficiency of Hyaluronic Acid for Tumor Targeting via CD44 MOLECULAR PHARMACEUTICS Spadea, A., Rios de la Rosa, J., Tirella, A., Ashford, M. B., Williams, K. J., Stratford, I. J., Tirelli, N., Mehibel, M. 2019; 16 (6): 2481–93
  • Statin-induced metabolic reprogramming in head and neck cancer: a biomarker for targeting monocarboxylate transporters. Scientific reports Mehibel, M., Ortiz-Martinez, F., Voelxen, N., Boyers, A., Chadwick, A., Telfer, B. A., Mueller-Klieser, W., West, C. M., Critchlow, S. E., Williams, K. J., Stratford, I. J. 2018; 8 (1): 16804


    Prognosis of HPV negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients remains poor despite surgical and medical advances and inadequacy of predictive and prognostic biomarkers in this type of cancer highlights one of the challenges to successful therapy. Statins, widely used for the treatment of hyperlipidaemia, have been shown to possess anti-tumour effects which were partly attributed to their ability to interfere with metabolic pathways essential in the survival of cancer cells. Here, we have investigated the effect of statins on the metabolic modulation of HNSCC cancers with a vision to predict a personalised anticancer therapy. Although, treatment of tumour-bearing mice with simvastatin did not affect tumour growth, pre-treatment for 2 weeks prior to tumour injection, inhibited tumour growth resulting in strongly increased survival. This was associated with increased expression of the monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) and a significant reduction in tumour lactate content, suggesting a possible reliance of these tumours on oxidative phosphorylation for survival. Since MCT1 is responsible for the uptake of mitochondrial fuels into the cells, we reasoned that inhibiting it would be beneficial. Interestingly, combination of simvastatin with AZD3965 (MCT1 inhibitor) led to further tumour growth delay as compared to monotherapies, without signs of toxicity. In clinical biopsies, prediagnostic statin therapy was associated with a significantly higher MCT1 expression and was not of prognostic value following conventional chemo-radiotherapy. These findings provide a rationale to investigate the clinical effectiveness of MCT1 inhibition in patients with HNSCC who have been taking lipophilic statins prior to diagnosis.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-35103-1

    View details for PubMedID 30429503

  • Radiation enhances the therapeutic effect of Banoxantrone in hypoxic tumour cells with elevated levels of nitric oxide synthase ONCOLOGY REPORTS Mehibel, M., Singh, S., Cowen, R. L., Williams, K. J., Stratford, I. J. 2016; 35 (4): 1925–32


    Banoxantrone (AQ4N) is a prototype hypoxia selective cytotoxin that is activated by haem containing reductases such as inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). In the present study, we evaluate whether elevated levels of iNOS in human tumour cells will improve their sensitivity to AQ4N. Further, we examine the potential of radiation to increase cellular toxicity of AQ4N under normoxic (aerobic) and hypoxic conditions. We employed an expression vector containing the cDNA for human iNOS to transfect human fibrosarcoma HT1080 tumour cells. Alternatively, parental cells were exposed to a cytokine cocktail to induce iNOS gene expression and enzymatic activity. The cells were then treated with AQ4N alone and in combination with radiation in the presence or absence of the iNOS inhibitor N-methyl-L‑arginine. In parental cells, AQ4N showed little difference in toxicity under hypoxic verses normoxic conditions. Notably, cells with upregulated iNOS activity showed a significant increase in sensitivity to AQ4N, but only under conditions of reduced oxygenation. When these cells were exposed to the combination of AQ4N and radiation, there was much greater cell killing than that observed with either modality alone. In the clinical development of hypoxia selective cytotoxins it is likely they will be used in combination with radiotherapy. In the present study, we demonstrated that AQ4N can selectively kill hypoxic cells via an iNOS-dependent mechanism. This hypoxia-selective effect can be augmented by combining AQ4N with radiation without increasing cytotoxicity to well‑oxygenated tissues. Collectively, these results suggest that targeting hypoxic tumours with high levels of iNOS with a combination of AQ4N and radiotherapy could be a useful clinical therapeutic strategy.

    View details for DOI 10.3892/or.2016.4555

    View details for Web of Science ID 000371947700004

    View details for PubMedID 26782976

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4774668

  • Effects of cytokine-induced macrophages on the response of tumor cells to banoxantrone (AQ4N) MOLECULAR CANCER THERAPEUTICS Mehibel, M., Singh, S., Chinje, E. C., Cowen, R. L., Stratford, I. J. 2009; 8 (5): 1261–69


    Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are found in many solid tumors and have often been shown to accumulate in the hypoxic regions surrounding areas of necrosis. TAMs are the major site of expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), a heme-containing homodimeric enzyme consisting of oxygenase and reductase domains. The latter has a high degree of sequence homology to cytochrome P450 reductase and a functional consequence of this is the ability of NOS, under hypoxic conditions, to activate the bioreductive drugs tirapazamine and RSU1069. Banoxantrone (AQ4N) is a bioreductive prodrug activated in hypoxia by an oxygen-dependent two-electron reductive process to yield the topoisomerase II inhibitor AQ4. A feature of this process is that the final product could potentially show bystander cell killing. Thus, in this study, we investigated the ability of inducible NOS (iNOS)-expressing TAMs to activate AQ4N and elicit toxicity in cocultured human tumor cells. Murine macrophages were induced to overexpress iNOS by treatment with a combination of cytokines, mixed with HT1080 and HCT116 human tumor cells, and the toxicity of AQ4N was determined under aerobic or hypoxic conditions. The aerobic toxicity of AQ4N toward tumor cells was not affected through coculturing with macrophages. However, under hypoxic conditions, the induction of iNOS activity in the macrophages was associated with an increase in AQ4N metabolism and a substantial increase in tumor cell toxicity, which was dependent on the proportion of macrophages in the culture. This study is the first demonstration of TAM-mediated prodrug activation to result in bystander killing of human tumor cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0927

    View details for Web of Science ID 000266189900030

    View details for PubMedID 19435866

  • iNOS as a therapeutic target for treatment of human tumors NITRIC OXIDE-BIOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY Fitzpatrick, B., Mehibel, M., Cowen, R. L., Stratford, I. J. 2008; 19 (2): 217–24


    Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) has been shown to be overexpressed in a number of human tumors compared to normal tissues and therefore potentially represents an exploitable target in future anticancer therapies. To achieve this, there will be a need to profile tumors to identify those expressing high levels of NOS; alternatively, endogenous (low) levels of NOS could be modulated by induction or through gene therapy approaches. NOS consists of a reductase domain which shares a high degree of sequence homology with P450 reductase and this domain supplies reducing equivalents to a haem containing oxygenase domain that is responsible for the production of nitric oxide. Thus, there are a number of routes of exploitation. Firstly, to take advantage of the reductase domain to activate bioreductive drugs as has been exemplified with tirapazamine and now extended to AQ4N (1,4-bis{2-(dimethylamino-N-oxide)ethylamino}5,8-dihydroxy-anthracene-9,10-dione). Secondly, to take advantage of nitric oxide production for its ability to increase the sensitivity of resistant hypoxic cells to radiation. Lastly, to utilize inhibition of HIF-1 to amplify NO based therapies. In this review we provide examples/evidence of how these objectives can be achieved.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.niox.2008.05.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257969300023

    View details for PubMedID 18515106