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Cancer Research Wales Announces Over £400k of Funding

Cancer Research Wales is today announcing the awarding of more than £400k of funding to support new research projects in Wales.

Following the charity’s thorough review process, having received a large number of applications from across Wales, six exciting projects have been chosen for funding.

Two of the new projects are awarded under the charity’s Pritchard & Moore Scholarship scheme, which honours the legacies of Professors John Pritchard and John Moore. Both men had distinguished medical careers at Velindre Cancer Centre and held a number of senior positions at Cancer Research Wales over several decades. The Pritchard & Moore Scholarship has been set up to support research into radiotherapy and its related fields, which was the area in which Professors Pritchard and Moore made their names.

Improving Radiotherapy Planning

The first of these projects will be based at Velindre Cancer Centre, overseen by Dr Philip Wheeler. The project will build upon work previously funded by Cancer Research Wales, which used automated radiotherapy planning software to assess the quality of radiotherapy plans produced manually by clinicians. The new programme of work will use the automated planning software to audit radiotherapy plans for prostate and anus cancers from hospitals around the UK, providing robust evidence of the quality and variation across and within these hospitals. The team hope to use the evidence they gather to drive improvement initiatives, ensuring better radiotherapy treatment for patients across the country.

New Breast Cancer Treatment

The second Pritchard & Moore Scholarship awarded will be based at Swansea University, supervised by Prof Martin Gill, in collaboration with Dr Chris Staples of Bangor University. This project aims to create a new treatment option for triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer with poor prognosis. The team will use modern chemistry techniques to create new drugs that improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy by enhancing its DNA damaging effects. This is a promising area of research with the potential to significantly improve the therapeutic arsenal for breast cancer oncologists.

Dr Peter Henley

Research Development Officer

“Here at Cancer Research Wales we are thrilled to be funding these projects and are really excited about their potential to improve outcomes for the cancer patients of the future in Wales.”

Innovation Grants

The remaining four projects are awarded as part of the Cancer Research Wales’s Innovation Grant stream, which provides funding for preliminary and early phase research studies, allowing researchers to get their ideas off the ground.

The first project, run by Dr Deb Roy at Swansea University, will develop and test a “hyper-spectral imaging” technique for use in surgery. This cutting-edge technology allows the rapid distinction of cancerous and healthy tissue from samples removed during the surgery, avoiding the delays normally experienced waiting for pathology labs to examine the tissue.

The second project will be based at Cardiff University, overseen by Dr Helen Pearson. Focusing on prostate cancer and using modern imaging techniques, the team will investigate cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), non-cancerous cells which influence and support tumour growth. By examining the distribution and variation in these CAFs, they hope to identify the patients most likely to relapse after surgery.

Thirdly, Prof Kerryn Lutchman-Singh of Swansea University Health Board will lead a project aiming to improve the detection of gynaecological cancers. Based on techniques developed at Swansea University, in work funded by Cancer Research Wales, the team will use Raman spectroscopy and machine learning to analyse blood samples taken from ovarian and endometrial cancer patients. This approach has the potential to deliver potentially life-saving earlier diagnosis for these patients.

Finally, Dr Sophie Shaw of the All Wales Medical Genomics Service will lead a project focused on enhancing lung cancer diagnosis. The team will build on their use of the pioneering “QuicDNA” test, which analyses small fragments of cancer DNA found in the blood of lung cancer patients, by incorporating a more comprehensive analysis technique. In this manner, they hope to obtain a more detailed picture of each patient’s cancer without unnecessary delays, allowing clinicians to plan tailored personalised treatment for each individual.

Here at Cancer Research Wales we are thrilled to be funding these projects and are really excited about their potential to improve outcomes for the cancer patients of the future in Wales. 

As ever, a huge thank you to our generous supporters, who enable us to keep funding world-class research right here in Wales.