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Scheme launched to personalise bowel cancer care

£5m programme will match patients to best therapies

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A £5m stratified medicine programme has been launched to personalise care for bowel cancer patients. 

Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) today jointly launched the scheme which will help match patients to the most effective therapies. 

The £5M S-CORT Consortium will use genome-based technology to uncover the complex biology of bowel cancer in samples collected from over 2,000 patients from large clinical trials. Researchers will use this information to precisely match the right treatment to the right patient.

These insights should help doctors decide which patients receive the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin, what type of radiotherapy they’re offered, and may also help surgeons to remove as little of the bowel as possible.

Commenting, Professor Tim Maughan, Cancer Research UK Clinician at the University of Oxford and head of the S-CORT Consortium, said: “Bowel cancer survival has more than doubled in the last 40 years. But there’s still a lot more work to do. Recognising this challenge, we have brought together key partners from the UK and Europe in this consortium. Based on strong evidence from our previous work and generating new data from over 2,000 individuals, we’ll identify ways to tailor treatment and ensure patients receive the drugs and other therapies that will benefit them the most, and make a significant difference to their chances of beating this common disease.”

Professor Mark Lawler, Chair of Translational Cancer Genomics, Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This precision medicine approach can maximise the effectiveness of both existing and brand new treatments while helping to minimise side effects, to improve survival and quality of life for our patients. Additionally, our health economic analysis will allow us to measure the benefit we can deliver for the NHS and the UK economy.”

The announcement, made during Bowel Cancer Awareness month (April) has been welcomed by cancer charities. 

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, a partner in the consortium, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this innovative research programme, as it provides a route to improved care for our patients.”

Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: “This programme will help establish a blueprint for new studies looking to tailor treatment for patients with other cancer types. It builds on existing work such as a pioneering clinical trial for patients with advanced lung cancer which launched last year.”

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