Current bowel cancer research
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Saving lives through our research
We’re tackling bowel cancer from all angles – understanding the underlying biology of the disease, finding new ways to prevent it in the first place, and testing new treatments in clinical trials. Below are some examples of what our researchers are doing right now.
Our current researchers
Preventing cancer using aspirin
Lynch syndrome is a condition that runs in families and puts people at a higher risk of developing bowel, womb and other types of cancer. There is strong evidence that aspirin can prevent cancers in this group of people. Professor Sir John Burn in Newcastle is leading a clinical trial testing if lower doses of aspirin work as well as higher doses, but with fewer side effects.
Tracking bowel cancer from the beginning
Professor Owen Sansom is Director of our Beatson Institute in Glasgow, where he is tracking the early changes that turn healthy bowel cells into cancer cells. His work is revealing how the disease develops, and could identify markers of the disease as well as ways to develop new treatments. As part of one of our winning Grand Challenge teams, he is also studying how bowel cancers get the energy they need to keep growing.
Investigating the benefits of exercise
In Belfast, Dr Vicky Coyle is leading the UK part of an international trial called the CHALLENGE trial. It’s looking at whether physical exercise could help reduce the risk of bowel cancer coming back after surgery and chemotherapy. The trial is supported by Stand Up To Cancer.
Finding the genes behind bowel cancer
Professor Malcolm Dunlop is a surgeon scientist in Edinburgh. He and his team are studying genetic faults in people with a higher risk of bowel cancer. They are also looking at how these faults and other risk factors affect bowel cancer risk and the outlook for patients who do develop the disease. They’re turning this knowledge into new ways to prevent bowel cancer.
Exploring aspirin's possibilities
We’re jointly funding a large international trial, called Add Aspirin, to see if aspirin can stop or delay bowel and other cancers coming back after treatment. It’s led by Professor Ruth Langley in London. The trial will help researchers work out who is most likely to benefit from taking aspirin, and how best to use it in cancer medicine.