Five of the top 10 causes of disease-related death in the UK are cancers. We aim to reduce the morbidity (diseased or unhealthy) and mortality (death) rates of patients with cancer.
We will do this by applying (translating) our research into better ways to diagnose, monitor and treat cancer – in other words, moving what we discover in the lab to the clinic, so that patients can benefit. Our current research is looking at some of the most common and hard-to-treat cancers, including brain, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
The way we treat cancer is changing. We used to wait until a cancer presented (showed) itself and then it was a case of ‘one size fits all’ in terms of treatment. But two developments hold real promise for how we can reduce both the disease and financial burden of cancer:
- Tools to diagnose cancer earlier. For example, a new tool (the CytospongeTM) has been developed which can quickly and cheaply test when cells in the oesophagus (gullet) grow abnormally. This can turn into cancer in a small number of people. By diagnosing the cells much earlier, doctors will be able to treat patients before they develop oesophageal cancer.
- Personalised cancer medicine. By matching the way disease unfolds in an individual with appropriate treatments, we can develop highly effective but less intense chemotherapies.
We work closely with our partners in Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs in the lab, which if promising we test on people in clinical trials. Only when it’s been seen to work is the drug adopted for use in the clinic. This process is called “translational” research.
Watch a one minute video of Professor Richard Gilbertson talking about cancer research.