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Research overview

Professor Johann de Bono, Cancer Biomarkers Team

The Cancer Biomarkers Team within the Division of Clinical Studies primarily focuses on biomarker-driven clinical research, providing innovative platforms towards understanding the mechanisms of cancer biology and drug resistance that are matched with genomic data. Biomarker-specific assays and methodologies, once established and standardised by the team, are used in a clinical environment to understand the complex biology of cancer cells.

The team supports the clinical research conducted by the Drug Development Unit (DDU), the Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group and multiple other clinical trials within The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust DDU. The Cancer Biomarkers Team plays a vital role in Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC)/Cancer Research UK-funded research, where the assays and processes developed by the Cancer Biomarkers Team are shared with other ECMC centres.

The team is led by Professor Johann de Bono, Head of the Division of Clinical Studies and the DDU, and also supports research led by Dr Udai Banerji and Dr Juanita Lopez. In addition, Professor de Bono is an Honorary Consultant for The Royal Marsden and leads the Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group. Since Professor de Bono became head of Clinical Studies in 2014, the team has been involved in further project collaborations with other departments within the ICR.

The team works on multiple projects simultaneously and has progressed from strength to strength over the past decade. It has established an internationally renowned infrastructure, which enables an increasing number of innovative practice-changing and biomarker-driven clinical trials to be conducted within the division, which continue to become more and more complex. The work done by the Cancer Biomarkers team is essential for the Division of Clinical Studies to deliver personalised medicine and benefit patient care, and significantly contributes to the scientific strategy of the division and the wider ICR.

The Cancer Biomarkers team employs 34 staff, who work closely with The Royal Marsden on a number of translational projects which are highly intensive (both in terms of man hours and scientific expertise) involving predictive biomarker analysis, circulating tumour cell enumeration and molecular interrogation of plasma DNA. We have 40 research and clinical projects overall, all ongoing and involving collaborations with several teams across the ICR.

Internal Collaborations  

National Collaborations

  • Movember collaboration (Imperial College, UCL)
  • ECMC Collaboration (Multiple ECMC centres in the UK)

Collaborations with Industry

The Cancer Biomarkers Team, embedded within the DDU, is involved in a significant number of projects with pharmaceutical companies where the projects are either developed as foundations for forthcoming clinical trials, or validation of processes for pharma kits or analysing samples for various biomarkers. The team is also involved in providing expert advice to industry collaborators on laboratory methodologies. The team is currently working on projects with Qiagen, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck, Taiho, GSK, Clearbridge, Petricoin, Betides, GenMAB, AstraZeneca, Genentech, among others.

Overall these collaborations have brought more than £20 million to the ICR over the past five years, including grants from Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, SU2C, Prostate Cancer UK/Movember, Prostate Cancer Foundation (Santa Monica), US Department of Defense and multiple pharmaceutical partners.

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