Manchester scientists get £1.47million funding boost for lung cancer research

Dr James O'Connor

The University of Manchester is to lead a £1.47million Cancer Research UK programme to bring major advances in lung cancer treatments – the North West’s most common cancer.

A team of scientists led by Dr James O’Connor from The University of Manchester, will use the cash injection to look at how imaging techniques can be used to improve treatment plans for lung cancer patients.The Manchester team will work to develop new ways to use imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better understand how lung cancer tumours respond to treatment. The information they gather could then be used to evaluate new therapies and in the future, might help doctors select the right treatment for each patient.

Every year around 46,400 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK *, including around 3,600 people in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Cumbria

The research will look at non-small cell lung cancer – which makes up around 85 per cent of lung cancers in the UK.

Dr O’Connor said: “We hope this research will transform the way we use scans to monitor how patients respond to new therapies.

“It’s an exciting area where we are aiming to combine drugs that harness the body’s immune system with well-established treatments like radiotherapy, and at the same time, create tests to identify which patients would benefit from these drugs.

“It builds on earlier research but we will be applying it to lung cancer specifically.”

The research will be done in laboratories, with the hope of running clinical trials with patients to test these techniques within three to four years.

Dr O’Connor, who lives in Hale and grew up in Altrincham, is one of only two scientists in the country this year to win the Cancer Research UK Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship award – aimed at supporting clinicians working in areas spanning basic and translational research.

Karen Noble, Cancer Research UK’s Head of Research Funding, said: “These awards are aimed at helping create the next generation of leaders in cancer research.

“They help encourage clinicians to continue to undertake vital research in conjunction with their clinical work treating patients.

“We hope Dr O’Connor’s important work in Manchester will improve lung cancer treatments for patients not just in Manchester but across the UK in future.”

Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet.

We hope this research will transform the way we use scans to monitor how patients respond to new therapies
Dr James O'Connor

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