Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have announced that they are to commit £35m for five years to four cancer imaging centres across the country.
According to EPSRC, this latest funding will bring together scientists, engineers and clinicians to develop new imaging techniques and applications which will help clinicians learn more about how tumours survive and grow, how cancer cells signal to one another, tumour blood supply, the environment surrounding tumours and molecular and genetic signatures.
The cancer imaging centres will serve as focal points of research using a variety of techniques, such as optical microscopy, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), functional MRI, ultrasound, and PET (positron emission tomography).
In a statement, Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of strategy and research funding, said: “Imaging is an invaluable tool in the fight against cancer. Being able to see what’s happening inside a patient is vitally important in understanding how treatments are working and the best ways to improve them.”
The four imaging centres to receive funding are at: Oxford University, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, a joint imaging centre between King’s College London and University College London, and a new collaboration between the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester.
Imaging plays a crucial role in cancer management in three main ways; as an initial assessment of the extent of the cancer at the time of diagnosis, as a tool for guiding therapy and to assess patient response to therapy.
The cancer imaging centre in Cambridge and Manchester combines translational research and clinical trials with imaging, genomics and pre-clinical research. By combining these two locations the cancer imaging centre has access to a large patient population and vital clinical trials infrastructure.
The cancer imaging centre in Oxford aims to integrate basic research in chemistry, physics and cancer biology with imaging science to guide treatment choices for cancer patients.
The cancer imaging centre at King’s College London and University College London combine technology development at King’s College London with the genomics expertise and clinical trials as well as access to the first clinical simultaneous PET/MRI facility in the UK. The facility focuses on determining the differences in a patient’s tumour and in bringing new imaging methods to the clinic.
The cancer imaging centre at The Institute of Cancer Research, London is part of the largest comprehensive Cancer Centre in Europe and will focus on enabling ‘personalised’ medicine for each individual patient. New imaging techniques, such as identifying an imaging ‘fingerprint’ of aggressive disease, will help determine which tumours have the greatest risk of progression.