Professor Nick Stone
At the University of Exeter, Professor Nick Stone is using his background in physics to develop better ways to pick up early cell changes in a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus, which can sometimes lead to oesophageal cancer.
Oesophageal cancer is hard-to-treat because it’s often diagnosed late, when treatment is less likely to be successful. Since Barrett’s oesophagus is a risk factor for the disease, finding and acting on early warning signs in these patients could reduce the number of people affected by oesophageal cancer.
Professor Stone wants to achieve this by combining two sophisticated microscope techniques to study certain properties of oesophageal tissue, like how stretchy it is and its chemical make-up. If he finds that some of these features are linked with the development of oesophageal cancer in patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, these techniques could help identify those who are at higher risk of the disease. Some of these characteristics may also be found to have a role in other cancers, so in the future this work could also help improve cancer detection more broadly.