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Scientist awarded €150K prize for non-invasive cancer tests

28 Nov 2012

A scientist from The University of Manchester has been awarded a €150,000 (about £120,000) research prize for the development of scalpel-sparing tests for the diagnosis and management of cancer.

Professor Caroline Dive
Professor Caroline Dive

Professor Caroline Dive received the Pasteur-Weizmann/Servier Prize for her work on non-invasive techniques for early cancer diagnosis and prediction of drug response. The award is given for a different research theme once every three years and this year recognised scientific and medical advances in the field of cancer research.

Cancer cells can have specific molecules on them that are not found on normal cells. These molecules can be used as ‘markers’ to detect and monitor cancer cells before, during and after patients receive cancer treatment. Traditionally these markers are detected in biopsy samples removed from the cancer by surgery.

Professor Dive’s group has been studying cancer cells found in patients’ blood to identify and characterise markers that are specific for those cells. These markers can be used to screen and diagnose patients and to monitor response to treatment in a non-invasive manner, so without the need for a biopsy.

The group, based at the Cancer Research UK-funded Paterson Institute for Cancer Research and part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, is also involved in clinical trials of new therapies. These trials monitor patient response to treatment using cancer cells purified from the individual’s own blood.

The prize money will fund cutting-edge equipment for the purification of circulating cancer cells from blood, increasing the number of trials the team can conduct and helping them to identify and characterise new molecular markers.

Professor Dive said: “I am honoured to receive the 2012 Pasteur-Weizmann/Servier Prize. Our work is all about taking findings from the laboratory and translating it into new tests and treatments for patients. The award will support our translational cancer research into specific markers of circulating cancer cells and also the group’s work in clinical trials to monitor disease and response to novel drugs.

“The more we can use markers to find out about cancer cells and how they respond to treatment the more we can develop a personalised approach to medicine where patients get the treatment tailored to their specific cancer characteristics.”

The Pasteur-Weizmann/Servier Prize is awarded to a world-leading academic and their team for major contributions to biomedical discoveries that lead the way to new therapeutic applications. Professor Dive was one of nine international nominees for the Prize.


Notes for editors

The University of Manchester:

The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’ and first in the UK in terms of cancer studies. The University had an annual income of £809 million in 2010/11.

The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research:

The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research is a research institute within The University of Manchester, and is one of five research institutes core-funded by Cancer Research UK. It is part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC), whose goal is to become one of the world's leading cancer research centres. The MCRC brings together the cancer research activity in the city and was founded by The University of Manchester, Cancer Research UK and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Research at the Paterson Institute spans the whole spectrum of cancer research, from programmes investigating the molecular and cellular basis of cancer to those focused on translational research and the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Facilities include CRUK’s national microarray service, advanced imaging, histology and mass-spectrometry based proteomics. The Institute has over 400 postdoctoral scientists, clinical fellows, scientific officers, administrative and technical staff, postgraduate research students and visiting fellows.

The Pasteur-Weizmann/Servier Prize:

The Pasteur-Weizmann/Servier Prize has been created to promote and favour therapy-targeted biomedical research. It is awarded to the laboratory of a top researcher, scientist or clinician, who has gained world-wide recognition for his major contribution to a biomedical discovery opening the way to a therapeutic application. The prize amounts to €150,000. It is awarded every three years and started in 2003. This year nine candidates (from Europe, USA, Canada and Israel) were nominated.

For further information contact:

Aeron Haworth
Media Relations
Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8383
Mob: 07717 881563