Professor Jacqui Shaw

‘Liquid biopsies’ to reveal cancer’s secrets

Professor Jacqui Shaw heads a research group at the University of Leicester. Her team is researching the potential of blood-based tests, ‘liquid biopsies’, to help track how cancers evolve and spread, with a focus on breast cancer.

Prof Shaw is hunting for breast cancer cells that have broken free from tumours and DNA released by cancer cells in the bloodstream. The team is investigating if this information from liquid biopsies could reveal a bigger picture of the genetic landscape of tumours, helping to predict which treatment is most likely to work for a patient.

They are also studying whether liquid biopsies can help to detect breast cancer at an early stage, when it’s less difficult to treat. She also hopes these tests can help uncover how breast cancers change as they grow and spread, and spot if cancers become resistant to treatment. This could help personalise medicine, making it more effective, and spare women the need for repeated biopsies.

She is also working with Professor Charlie Swanton in the ambitious TRACERx national lung cancer study, analysing in unprecedented detail how lung cancers from 850 patients change at the genetic level over time, from diagnosis and throughout treatment. The results from TRACERx will transform our understanding of lung cancer and could lead to improvements in how doctors treat the disease.

Breast cancer
Lung cancer
Biomarker research
Cancer biology
Early diagnosis

Translational Cancer Genetics, Department of Cancer Studies, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester