QUB pioneers personalised cancer treatment technology

  • Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have developed a test that will help create personalised treatments for oesophageal cancer.

    The UK has has a particularly high incidence of a certain type of oesophageal cancer called oesophageal adenocarcinoma, which has proven tricky to treat as not all patients respond the same way. The normal treatment is a standardised course of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the cancer in preparation for surgery, but around 80% of patients experience no significant shrinkage before surgery.

    Medical technology has been making huge strides over the past several years toward a more personalised approach to treatment. A course of treatment that will work for one patient may not be as effective on another, but finding out which treatment will work for which patient isn't always possible or practical.

    Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Cambridge have now partnered with stratified medicine firm Almac Diagnostic Services to develop a new test that should help create a more personalised treatment for oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The test has now been validated and should help doctors select a course of chemotherapy that's more likely to be effective in an individual rather than just treating everyone the same.

    Dr Richard Turkington, Senior Clinical Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, explained the importance of the study: "At present we apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach where everyone gets the same type of chemotherapy before their surgery. But we know that different chemotherapies work better for different patients so we need to match the right treatment to the right patient. This test enables us to gain a molecular understanding of each patient’s cancer, which could then inform the decision to select the right chemotherapy to shrink the tumour."

    Source: Written based on press release

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