Aiming to catch cancer earlier and improve treatment options for patients.
Oxford has world-class clinical facilities and state-of-the-art scientific research technology, which we are bringing together to benefit patients with cancer. Two main challenges that we are tackling are: improving early diagnosis of cancer; and finding out why patients respond differently to some treatments.
Many deaths from cancer could be prevented if the disease is diagnosed earlier, because treatment of many early-stage cancers – by surgery, for example – is often successful.
A promising new treatment for other cancers, called ‘immunotherapy’, harnesses the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumour. The challenge with immunotherapy is that it is very effective for some patients but not others, and we don’t understand why.
We have four main areas of work to address these problems:
1) Setting up a series of specially designed clinical trials, which will give patients access to the latest treatment options and provide our researchers with the information they need to understand how the treatments affect tumours in different people.
2) Improving screening to detect early cancer by using the latest technologies to ‘see’ what is happening and take tiny samples from patients that can be analysed to find changes in molecules within cells that might predict the earliest stages of cancer.
3) Finding better ways to choose the best treatment for an individual patient, by using clinical and molecular information that we gather before, during and after patients are treated with immunotherapy.
4) Identifying new combinations of treatments to help patients when standard therapies are unsuccessful.
In all of these projects, leading scientists in Oxford will be working closely with the expert clinical teams and patients, so we can bring the benefits of research into clinical practice as quickly and effectively as possible.
As part of the activities for the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Open Day, Professor Adrian Harris, University of Oxford, Department of Oncology, talks about new ways to treat cancer.