Current research into personalised medicine
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Saving lives through research
From creating treatments that target a person's unique cancer, to developing tests to monitor whether treatments are working, our scientists are working hard to make cancer treatment more pesonalised. Below are some examples of what our researchers are doing right now.
Mapping the genetics
Professor Carlos Caldas and his team in Cambridge are mapping the genetic landscape of breast cancer, which will help tailor treatments to each patient in the future. Thanks to their meticulous study of the faulty genes in thousands of tumour samples, we now know that breast cancer is at least 10 different diseases. His group has developed models that mimic human tumours in the laboratory and hope this will help them to discover and test more effective and personalised treatments.
Running a clinical trial
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, to tackle individual cancers. 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, personalising the treatment for each patient.
Measuring tumour activity
Professor Andrew Pettitt in Liverpool is focussed on follicular lymphoma, the most common form of low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He is testing if a new scan that measures the activity of tumours can help doctors decide how much treatment each patient needs. He is also leading several clinical trials to find the best combination of treatment specifically for older people with the disease.
Developing a blood test
Developing ways to monitor and understand an individual's cancer will help tailor treatments to each patient. Professor Caroline Dive is working with the Christie Hospital in Manchester to develop a blood test to hunt for ‘free’ cancer cells that have broken away from a tumour and entered the bloodstream. This blood test could help understand how lung cancer changes as it grows and spreads, and why sometimes treatment stops working. The researchers hope this could allow them to develop new treatments and tailor treatment for each patient.
Focussing on prostate cancer
In London, Professor Ros Eeles is looking at whether the patterns of inherited genetic faults in a prostate tumour affect how it should be treated. This could led to more personalised treatment of men with the disease. She’s also studying whether genetic information like this could be used to monitor men most at risk of the disease, or used in a screening programme.