Our progress against bowel cancer
Our researchers are uncovering what genetic factors may increase the risk of bowel cancer. One of our teams discovered a mutation that drives bowel cancer's development by causing higher levels of the gene ETV1. We hope that patients with this mutation will soon benefit from drugs targeting this gene.
We have also developed a new test that uses genetic 'barcoding'; technology to separate bowel cancer into five different diseases, which means patients can receive tailored treatment for their cancer type.
Matching treatments to patients
To give patients the best results, Professor Nicola Valeri and his team have developed a new technique to grow 'mini tumours'. Our aim is that patients will have their own mini tumours grown in the lab, so that drugs could be tested against the genetic profiles of their cancers to develop personalised treatment plans.
The team have also developed blood tests, or 'liquid biopsies', to pick out people whose tumours are unlikely to respond to certain drugs. Liquid biopsies can help predict bowel cancer's next move, and lead to more personalised, adaptive treatment plans.
Overcoming drug resistance
We are tackling the threat of drug resistance to create more effective treatment strategies. Dr Anguraj Sadanandam recently led a study which found that combining immunotherapy with radiotherapy could help treat resistant bowel tumours.
Another method our researchers experiment with is using targeted drug combinations. Recently, a team combined three different drugs which, together, were able to stop bowel cancer developing resistance to treatment.
We also found that some bowel cancers that are resistant to treatment could be re-sensitised using drugs that reduce inflammation, such as bromodomain inhibitors.