Science beakers in a line depicting cancer research

‘High-risk’ cancer research given £2m funding boost

Four clinical research teams across the UK have been awarded an equal share of £2m to test innovative ways of tackling hard-to-treat cancer, the secretary of state for science, Michelle Donelan, has announced.

Included in the funding is a project that will evaluate how AI can be used to read lung scans and more precisely predict cancer resistance.

The data gathered from the programme will inform the development of drugs that target resistant cancer cells. King’s College London’s Tim Witney will lead on this.

Another £500,000 will go to researchers led by Lauren Ford at Imperial College London who will investigate how lasers can be used to remove brain cancer cells.

This technique could reduce the collateral damage caused to other cells and provide real-time data on the nature of the cancer, which can be used to improve post-operative care.

In another initiative, experts at Cardiff University and Brain Tumour Research will explore the potential of ‘cryogel’ to help deliver drugs directly to brain tumours.

In theory, this can overcome the blood-brain barrier and reduce the knock-on effect to non-cancerous brain cells. The project will be led by Ben Newland.

The fourth round of investment will be used to try and optimise engineered nanoparticle therapeutics for oesophageal cancer. Researchers hope to target cells that inhibit the efficacy of medicines.

This work will be conducted by researchers from The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust – Sara Valpione will lead.

Science, innovation and technology secretary, Michelle Donelan, said: “By investing in high-risk but high-reward techniques – including artificial intelligence – we are backing our ambitious, world class researchers to build on generations of discoveries and give more people a fighting chance to live long and healthy lives.”

Health secretary, Steve Barclay, added: “We are looking at how new technology can help provide the best possible treatments for patients and this £2 million investment will be vital in supporting researchers to understand and treat those cancers with lower survival rates.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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