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Funding is awarded to expand the number of endoscopy patients taking part in research and to develop new cancer diagnosis and monitoring technologies based on liquid biopsies.

Two proposals whose aims include the earlier diagnosis of cancer are among eight Oxford projects that have received NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) to expand key areas of research:

Restructuring endoscopic patient consent and research recruitment for the ‘big data’ age

BRC researchers are aiming to make the Translational Gastroenterology Unit one of the first in the country to establish an opt-out, universal consent process to offer all patients undergoing an endoscopy the chance to participate in translational research. This will allow scaling up of research to generate the larger discovery and validation datasets needed for modern molecular or machine learning approaches. The ultimate goal is to achieve earlier detection of gastrointestinal cancers and better management of inflammatory bowel disease.

Cancer DNA before, during and after treatment from liquid biopsies

A liquid biopsy, such as a blood test, is a simple and non-invasive method that may complement or even replace imaging or solid tumour biopsies. By studying cancer DNA from a liquid biopsy, clinicians can garner important information about the stage of a patient’s cancer, and how well they have responded to therapy. In this study, BRC researchers, led by Professor Anna Schuh and the Oxford Molecular Diagnostics Centre, will be using this technique to confirm which patients have been successfully treated for cancer in a shorter time frame and which need to change to a more effective treatment. In a second part of the study, a new test using liquid biopsies will be developed to detect cancer DNA in mantle cell lymphoma. Long term, it is hoped these methods can become routine treatments in the NHS.

 

This funding can often play a key role in keeping important research projects moving forward, through additional staffing, for example. We received some very strong bids, and it was not easy narrowing it down to these eight projects. We have decided to use this funding to look ahead to where we want to be as a BRC in the coming years and pump-prime strategic new initiatives – especially those bringing together expertise from a number of themes – that will help us to transition to the next round of NIHR funding for BRCs. - Prof Helen McShane, Director of the Oxford BRC

NIHR RCF is aimed at allowing NHS research organisations to act flexibly and strategically to maintain its research capacity and capability, for example by appointing or retaining key staff or contributing to the costs of research. Eight Oxford projects each received between £50,000 and £150,000. For more information on the other funded projects, visit the NIHR Oxford BRC website.