Rebecca Fitzgerald’s lab focuses on understanding the earliest molecular steps in the development of oesophago-gastric cancer and applying this knowledge to develop and evaluate new diagnostic tests.
One major breakthrough of the group has been the development of the Cytosponge, currently being validated in a large-scale (9,000 patients) UK clinical trial, as well as US trials. This promises to be a low-cost, non-invasive means of detecting Barrett’s Oesophagus, a pre-cancerous condition which can precede oesophageal cancer. Importantly the trial is also testing whether the tool can be used effectively in a primary care setting.
A case study of the Cytosponge may be read here.
Sarah Bohndiek’s Vision Lab develops novel imaging approaches for early cancer detection and evaluation of disease prognosis. We exploit low cost optical imaging modalities with potential for widespread deployment in future surveillance programmes. We are also apply our imaging methods in cancer models to explore the role of the tumour microenvironment in cancer development.
Jamie Blundell’s lab works on understanding how mutant clones arise, expand and compete in our tissues as we age. Focusing predominantly on blood, we use novel genetic lineage tracking tools and deep sequencing of longitudinal samples to identify mutant clones which are under strong positive selection. Such clones are implicated in early cancer and thus are candidates for improved cancer detection.
Using genetic and epigenetic alterations found in early prostate cancer Charlie Massie's uro-oncology early detection lab will create assays for sensitive detection and quantification of cell-free tumour DNA and develop molecular prognostic scores to help stratify early stage prostate tumours. More accurate risk stratification will spare men with indolent disease from the risks of unnecessary over treatment, and allow more targeted interventions in men with high-risk disease.