Wales’ leading cancer charity, Cancer Research Wales, has pledged an extra £1.75m for a number of relevant and innovative cancer research projects to be undertaken by teams working at Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor Universities, and their associated NHS organisations. This new work will aim to address some of the most pressing cancer-related issues in Wales, through translational research, that has the potential to quickly impact clinical practice.
The funding will provide fresh initiatives, for brain tumour and lung cancer research, two very difficult to treat cancers for which survival rates have remained stubbornly low. Also, a continuation of previously successful work at Swansea University, will see the development of two separate blood-based tests that is hoped will help diagnose cancers of the bowel and oesophagus much earlier, and with a greater accuracy, than currently available.
This point of care testing aims to detect the presence of cancer specific fingerprints in the blood of patients, and represents a simpler, and less invasive method than the standard endoscopy procedures used to investigate the possibility of cancer. As part of this research, patients who show clear symptoms will be offered the tests within their own participating GP surgeries, while others with more vague symptoms, but are suspected of having cancer, will receive the tests, following referral to the one stop diagnostic centres under evaluation in the Neath Port Talbot and Cynon Valley areas.
Elsewhere, a new clinical immunotherapy trial for bowel cancer, being led by oncologists and clinicians based in Cardiff, will use a recently proven strategy to investigate if the immune system can be stimulated to prevent relapse in people who have previously received ‘curative’ treatment for the disease. It is estimated that over 500 bowel cancer patients every year in Wales will develop secondary tumours at a later date, so providing a well-tolerated treatment with little or no known side effects in order to prevent, or significantly delay cancer recurrence, is an exciting prospect.
Interim Charity Director of Cancer Research Wales, Bryn Roberts, said:
“We are very proud of the world-class research we support here in Wales. These new projects provide much needed research investment in some challenging areas, such as early diagnosis and new treatments for bowel and lung cancers, which are Wales’ two leading causes of cancer death. Supporting local clinicians and scientists helps to ensure the latest scientific breakthroughs are brought closer to home, with local patients among the first to reap the benefits of such work. We are extremely thankful to all our supporters across Wales, as without their continued dedication and generosity this new research couldn’t happen.”