Queen's announces major cancer study

Published Wednesday, 11 December 2013
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Queen's University in Belfast is to lead a €6m European study to find new treatments for bowel cancer, it has been announced.

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Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second major cause of cancer mortality. It is the third most common cause of cancer in Europe, with over 200,000 deaths annually.

Two major genetic factors, which make bowel cancer difficult to treat, will be looked at as part of the research.

The project will involve 13 partners from eight different European countries, bringing together world leading researchers from the UK, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy and the Czech Republic.

At present, over 50% of colorectal cancer patients develop an aggressive form of the disease which spreads quickly and does not respond to standard therapy.

More than five years after diagnosis of this type of cancer, patients' survival is less than 5%.

The new research is set to build on recent studies which have increased the understanding of what goes wrong in the colorectal cancer cell.

It aims to develop new diagnostics and therapies through a programme of research, which will include a translational clinical trial of over 1000 people.

The study will take place under a recently established European Consortium (MErCuRIC), led by Queen's University and funded by the European Commission's Framework VII Programme.

Dr Sandra van Schaeybroeck is the co-ordinator of the Research Programme from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen's University.

She said: "Our research has identified two key genes that are contributing to the aggressive spread of colorectal cancer.

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"The research being carried out by MErCuRIC will allow us to bring this research to the next level by developing and conducting a clinical trial that targets the products of these two genes in patients with metastic or aggressive colorectal cancer."
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