31/05/2017

Researchers Make 'Breakthrough Discovery' In Bowel Cancer Treatment

Researchers at Queen's University in Belfast have made a "breakthrough discovery" in the treatment of bowel cancer.

New research has found how a genomic approach to understanding bowel (colorectal) cancer could improve the prognosis and quality of life for patients.

For clinicians, treating patients with bowel cancer can be particularly challenging. Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Genomics, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's and joint Senior Author on the study said: "Currently patients with colorectal cancer are offered chemotherapy treatment. While this treatment may be successful for some patients, for others it will have no effect on fighting the cancer, though the patients may suffer debilitating side effects such as nerve damage that can result in a loss of sensation or movement in a part of the body. A ‘one size fits all’ approach isn't a viable option if we are to effectively tackle this disease."
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Researchers at Queen's, in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds have made a significant advance in the treatment of bowel cancer. The study, which has been published in the high impact journal Nature Communications, has shown how defining precise gene signatures within bowel cancer cells can allow us to develop novel prognostic and predictive markers for bowel cancer and help to drive personalised medicine approaches.

Dr Philip Dunne, Senior Research Fellow at Queen’s said: "Through analysing the molecular and genetic data generated from patient tissue samples, we have discovered that there are different subtypes of bowel cancer. This research unequivocally identifies robust gene signatures that can be used to inform patient management.

"It will allow us to identify particular gene signatures that indicate sensitivity or resistance to specific therapies. Thus, we can tailor treatment to the individual patient, maximising its effectiveness while minimising potential side effects."

The research was performed as part of Stratified Medicine in Colorectal Cancer (S:CORT), an MRC-Cancer Research UK funded stratified medicine consortium, bringing together the best of UK science and clinical care in bowel cancer to develop personalised medicine treatment approaches in this common malignancy.

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