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Launch of Joint Annual Research Report

This year’s joint Annual Research Report from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden will be launched with presentations from two of the organisations’ most exceptional scientists; Drs Johann de Bono and Janine Erler. Both scientists have contributed significantly in the fight against cancer with ground-breaking research on developing new drugs against the most aggressive form of prostate malignancy and investigations into the prevention of tumour spread.

At the launch event on Tuesday 29 September at The Royal Marsden’s Education and Conference Centre in Chelsea, Dr de Bono will discuss how his team is working to accelerate the process of developing new cancer drugs for patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer – the second highest cancer killer in men. 

Dr de Bono’s Prostate Cancer Team evaluates circulating tumour cells (CTC) in blood as potential biomarkers, indicators of a person’s biological state. The presence of CTCs is associated with an advanced stage of the disease, but also reflects disease biology. A measurement of patients’ CTCs could be used to assess the success of experimental drugs in treating cancer.

CTC evaluation has many attractive features including the ease of collecting patient samples, reliability of results and the potential for tracking molecular changes to the cancer. Dr de Bono believes that the improvement of technology for the isolation and evaluation of CTCs will make such ‘liquid biopsies’ central to future anti-cancer drug development. 

The second key speaker, Dr Erler, will present her work in unravelling the complex process of cancer metastasis, which is responsible for more than 90 per cent of cancer patient deaths.

Dr Erler leads the Hypoxia and Metastasis Team at the ICR, which examines the biological factors involved in enabling cancer spread to secondary sites in the body. Dr Erler’s biggest breakthrough was the discovery that the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) is essential for metastasis and is a critical factor for the establishment of pre-metastatic niches as it travels from the primary tumour to prepare distant sites in the body for invasion by cancer cells.  Her team demonstrated that blocking LOX function halts metastatic spread, revealing a key step that can be targeted for drug development. 

The Annual Research Report is a joint publication highlighting important achievements and significant progress in cancer research made by the partnership between the ICR and The Royal Marsden. Together, the organisations form Europe’s largest Comprehensive Cancer Centre, with an outstanding national and international reputation.

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