In the UK alone, over 330,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. This number is expected to rise to over 425,000 by 2030. Tackling cancer remains a major healthcare challenge, in the UK and across the world.
STFC’s new cancer strategy sets out how we will harness our key strengths and capabilities to help address three priority areas associated with cancer: diagnosis, radiotherapy and long-term patient follow-up. We are committed to moving our cancer strategy forward, and forging a new path to tackling this widespread and deadly disease.
Using Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme (CLASP) investment, researchers at the University of Leicester have adapted gamma-ray technology originally used for astronomy in order to improve the detection and treatment of cancer. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Nottingham, the Leicester scientists developed a hybrid gamma-optical camera and went on to form a spin-out company, Gamma Technologies Ltd. The portable, high-resolution camera extends the use of nuclear medicine procedures to the bedside and operating theatre; it also reduces the cost of detecting and treating cancer. The device is currently undergoing trials at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham.
EPSRC-funded research (£3.2 million) led by the University of Liverpool and involving NHS trusts, will use a state-of-the-art tissue culture centre at STFC’s ALICE accelerator to understand the effects of terahertz radiation on human cells. The aim is to significantly improve the diagnosis and treatment of three most common forms of cancer: prostate, cervical and oesophageal.
Oesophageal cancer has the fastest rise in incidence in the western world, affecting more than half a million people annually world-wide. Prostate cancer affects 10% of males in developed countries, with 30,000 new cases annually in the UK alone. These cancers can be treated much more successfully if diagnosed early and this project aims to develop a new generation of portable, accurate low-cost instruments for improve cancer diagnosis.
Professor Erika Denton, National Clinical Director for Diagnostics and Imaging, NHS England, said: “This collaboration has the potential to bring significant improvements in patient care and is an excellent example of the kind of world leading, multidisciplinary research we excel in undertaking in the UK and especially at STFC.”
Scientists from Edinburgh University took an algorithm originally developed for astrophysics and generalised it to any problem where large sets of data must be analysed quickly. The spin-out Blackford Analysis was formed in 2010 to develop commercial solutions based on this generalised algorithm. The company offers services directed at rapid registration of massive imaging datasets, with applications in the medical, defence and energy sectors.
For example, a modified version of the algorithm has been used to stabilise MRI images of moving patients, allowing young children to be scanned without anaesthetic.
For more information, download a PDF copy of our cancer strategy now.
If you would like further information please contact Barbara Camanzi.