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About our research

Cancer is a highly complex disease with more than 200 types, each caused by a different combination of genetic defects. Even among patients with a single type of cancer, such as breast or lung cancer, the genetic triggers vary from one person to the next. At The Institute of Cancer Research, London, we believe it is important to take into account those differences as we discover new cancer treatments – an approach known as personalised medicine.

An ICR scientist working in the lab

Our scientific strategy focuses on three main areas, each designed to support the delivery of personalised cancer treatment:

  • Our scientists work to identify the genes that cause cancer, and understand how a combination of genetics and the environment helps determine a person's cancer risk.
  • We aim to understand the biology of tumours, by discovering the genes that drive cancers, and how tumours evolve within a person's body and shape their environment.
  • We design new cancer treatments applying our biological knowledge about cancers to target their specific genetic weak points, and developing more focused radiotherapy to treat tumours more effectively while reducing side-effects.

The ICR works closely with our partner hospital, The Royal Marsden, in delivering our strategy, so we can take the results of our research as quickly as possible to patients in clinical trials. We also learn lessons from the clinical experience with new treatments, and adjust our research priorities accordingly.