Current research into lung cancer
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Saving lives through our research
Lung cancer is one of four ‘hard to treat’ cancers outlined as a priority in our 2014 strategy. This means we are increasing funding for research in this area, and we recently established a Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence at Manchester and UCL. Below are some other examples of how our researchers are tackling lung cancer right now.
Our current researchers
Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician, is aiming to improve outcomes for people with lung cancer. He is running the TRACERx study, one of the largest ever genetic studies of lung cancer patients. This pioneering project aims to follow around 850 people with non-small-cell lung cancer to study how their cancers change over time and why sometimes, treatment stops working.
Hunting for cancer cells
Sometimes, cancer cells break free from a tumour and enter the bloodstream. Professor Caroline Dive is working with the Christie Hospital in Manchester to develop a way to hunt for these ‘free’ cancer cells in people with lung cancer. They aim to develop a blood test to capture these free cancer cells to understand how lung cancer changes as it grows and spreads, and why sometimes, treatment stops working.
Testing new treatments
In Birmingham, Professor Gary Middleton is leading the National Lung Matrix Trial. It’s testing new treatments for non-small cell lung cancer that are targeted to specific genetic faults in tumours. The trial has a flexible design, meaning patients who are participating have access to new treatments as they’re developed. These treatments will be matched to the specific genetic faults in their tumours.
Understanding smoking habits
Professor Robert West in London is looking at what makes people take up smoking – and what helps them to quit. These insights could help develop better stop smoking services. He is also looking at the potential of using mobile apps and other digital technologies to support people to quit.
Studying cancer evolution
Dr Yinyin Yuan in London is studying lung tumours as a natural ecosystem to see how cancer cells are influenced by their surroundings as they grow. Her fast, automated way of analysing tiny images from inside lung tumours will reveal their characteristics as they evolve. Her research could reveal how cancer evolves resistance to treatment, as she is studying factors that are not currently well understood.