Early detection doesn’t get enough attention and a transatlantic research alliance is about to change that. The UK’s University of Cambridge takes up a central role in a £55 million transatlantic research alliance to develop novel new strategies and technology in the quest to detect cancer as early as possible. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) will invest up to £40 million over 5 years into the alliance with American partners contributing another £15 million. Called the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED), it involves a partnership between CRUK, the Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, UCL, and the University of Manchester.
Research Goals: New Screening Technologies for Hard to Detect Cancers
This transatlantic team comes together with an aim to accelerate breakthroughs in early detection of cancer, which is known to dramatically improve a patient’s odds of survival. For example, the medical industry understands that current screening programs for bowel, breast and cervical cancers had had considerable impact, along with improved public awareness and urgent GP referrals for those with suspicious symptoms. However for many cancer types there are no screening tools and new detection technology needs to be developed.
The Problem: Late Cancer Diagnosis in the UK
Recently Cancer Research UK demonstrated the scale of the problem of late diagnosis. The net of the problem is that across England almost have of all cancers with a known state are diagnosed at state 3 or 4, equating to 115,000 cancer patients—of which 67,000 are diagnosed at the most advanced stage—a dangerous situation for the patient reports the Cambridge Independent. If the disease is diagnosed earlier the survival rate, all things being equal, is far higher.
The Cambridge ACED Centre
An nexus of this transatlantic research network will be in the UK and specifically in the Cambridge ACED Centre which is backed by £3.3 million from CRUK. Cambridge ACED involves 355 members including University of Cambridge, the Gurdon Institute, Wellcome Sanger Institute and NHS to mention some prominent members. The team will be led by Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald and physicist Dr. Sarah Bohndiek.
New Clinical Infrastructure for Research in Early Detection (CuRED)
The new Clinical Infrastructure for Research in Early Detection (CuRED) facility in Cambridge will test and validate early diagnostics in the quest to accelerate the development and adoption of the most promising technologies.
New Diagnostic Breakthroughs Needed
The research centers and investigators will put the cash to action soon to “work on essential clinical trials that will result in faster implementation of new early detection strategies and diagnostics, making a real difference to the lives of patients,” reports Professor Fitzgerald.
For example, the team has set its focus on new imaging tools that can potentially detect pre-cancerous lesions. Dr. Bohndiek collaborates with Professor Fitzgerald on an advanced endoscope using hyperspectral imaging to reveal colors beyond human vision in the mission of detecting early signs of cancer in the oesophagus and colon.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK, Chief Executive
Rebecca Fitzgerald, Gastro-Oesophageal Cancer expert
Dr. Sarah Bohndiek, Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Call to Action: If you are a oncology-focused sponsor or technology provider there could be partnering opportunities with ACED.