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New partnership to develop personalised cancer treatments

Barts Cancer Institute, part of Queen Mary, University of London, has formed a new partnership to develop personalised diagnosis and treatments for cancer patients.

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Professor Nick Lemoine
Professor Nick Lemoine

The Institute will join forces with Source BioScience and Illumina Inc. in a collaboration that brings half a million pounds in research funding.

Funding comes from the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s national innovation agency, and is part of a major five-year initiative to ensure that the UK is a world leader in the development of personalised medicine.

There are a variety of tests currently available which monitor a patient’s response to anti-cancer drugs but these are costly, complex, time-consuming, and not freely available.

The new research aims to create a genetic test that characterises cancer tumours at the molecular level to improve diagnosis and treatment outcomes for patients.

The collaboration will use the most advanced DNA analysis technology from Illumina, to genetically profile cancers and build a bank of information on every tumour type. Barts Cancer Institute has a long-established tissue bank that will provide the clinical samples for analysis. Source BioScience will develop the integrated diagnostic test which will indicate the most effective treatment options for each patient.

Professor Nick Lemoine, Director Barts Cancer Institute said: “The advent of targeted therapies now requires the development of technology that can be applied in routine health service laboratories to make personalised medicine a reality for all patients. Our combined strengths mean that we are well placed to deliver a next-generation solution.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Routine comprehensive profiling of tumours upon diagnosis has the potential to open up more effective treatment options and, together with related clinical data, could dramatically increase our understanding of the power of targeted therapies, which could then be applied to drug development.  These projects will lead to the development of products or services which can be readily adopted by NHS commissioners, for the improvement of patient outcomes.”

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