Academics looking at MRI test results

Liverpool academics awarded £5.7m in cancer research grants

Academics at the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre (LHNC), based at the University of Liverpool, have been awarded five cancer research grants, totalling £5.7m in funding.

The grants will support clinical trials, laboratory investigations and exploration of the interaction between head and neck cancer and the Covid-19 virus.

LHNC was created in 2018 as a partnership between the University of Liverpool and NHS Partners at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust and The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, in order to facilitate greater treatment and research of disease of the head and neck.

Head and neck cancer represents the 8th most common form of cancer in the UK, and the 6th globally.

Professor Richard Shaw, who chairs the research arm of LHNC, said: “Large research grants are hard to secure in the current highly competitive funding environment, so to see five be awarded all at once is very rewarding.

“It is fantastic to see the infrastructure we have put in place bearing fruit, and promising for future advances in treatment of head and neck cancer.”

Professor Terry Jones, Director of LHNC, added: “The vision of LHNC has always been to embed translational research seamlessly into gold standard clinical care with the aim of improving the outcomes of head and neck cancer patients.

“This is of particular relevance in Liverpool which has a high level of socio-economic disadvantage and a disproportionate incidence of, and mortality from, head and neck cancer.

“This academic/NHS synergy is now reaping considerable rewards in terms of research grant funding and we expect meaningful benefits for our patients to follow.”

The five projects to receive funding through the cancer grants are:

  • Realizing the radiobiological impact of protons and high-LET particles in head and neck cancer and glioblastoma models (NIH): To examine the biological impact of proton beam therapy in head and neck, but also adult brain, cancer cells and to devise effective strategies for tumour cell killing leading to a future improvement in patient response.
  • Novel insights into the cellular response to complex DNA damage induced by proton beam therapy (MRC): To determine the effect of proton beam therapy on head and neck cancer cells at the DNA level, leading to future optimal treatments for head and neck cancer patients.
  • PATHOS-T: Bioresource collection associated with PATHOS: A Phase III trial of risk-stratified, reduced intensity adjuvant treatment in patients undergoing transoral surgery for Human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal cancer (Cancer Research UK): To explore the biology of Human papilloavirus mediated head and neck cancer in association with the PATHOS clinical trial.
  • RAPTOR: Randomised Controlled Trial of PENTOCLO in Mandibular Osteoradionecrosis (NIHR): The first randomised trial of a combination of repurposed drugs (PENTOCLO) versus control to discover their effectiveness in treatment of late radiation effects on the lower jaw.
  • SARS-CoV-2-reactive tissue-resident memory T cells in healthy and cancer subjects (NIH): Does SARS-CoV-2 infection result in the generation of robust T cell response, and in head and neck mucosal tissues, and to what extent is this impaired in cancer?
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