Dr George Poulogiannis explains his team’s role in the Grand Challenge programme.
Scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are part of a consortium that has won one of the first wave of ‘Grand Challenge’ grants from Cancer Research UK.
Dr George Poulogiannis’s Signalling and Cancer Metabolism Team will receive a share of £16m for its role in a programme led by the National Physical Laboratory – to create a ‘Google Earth’ style map of cancers.
Cancer Research UK has called the Grand Challenge the world’s largest and most ambitious cancer research grant competition aimed at tackling the biggest problems in cancer through multinational team research on a scale never attempted before.
In Dr Poulogiannis’s winning research programme, scientists will map and visualise tumours and their microenvironments in unprecedented detail, using a variety of new mass spectrometry imaging techniques and instruments to study individual breast, bowel and pancreatic tumours.
The team, which is one of four to receive one of the first Grand Challenge awards, also includes researchers from several UK academic institutes, AstraZeneca and Weill Cornell Medicine in the US.
The team led by Dr Poulogiannis will help to build up a database of molecular and metabolic alterations from primary tumours and preclinical models. It will also lead work to find out how cancers of different metabolisms respond to different cancer therapies.
Dr Poulogiannis said: “This consortium will allow us to image cancer cells in a completely new way, deepening our understanding of the interplay between genes, metabolites and proteins and also the role of the immune system in cancer growth and development.
“The study will give us new insights into the metabolism of primary tumours. If we can map these metabolic changes during cancer surgery, it has the potential to transform the way we diagnose and treat tumours.”