One of our scientists has been given half-a-million-pounds to take his investigation into bowel cancer Down Under.
Dr Tony Dhillon, who is one of our medical Oncologists, has received more than £500,000 to bring his clinical trial to patients in Australia.
The study, which looks at whether combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy can improve survival rates, is already open at more than 20 centres across the UK.
Immunotherapy has been hailed as the new era of cancer treatment that works by teaching the body’s own immune system to hunt out and attack tumours.
Dr Dhillon hopes that the findings could change the way patients with colorectal cancer are treated and ultimately increase the chance of being cured to 95 percent.
He said: “Harnessing the immune system to tackle cancer is one of the most exciting areas in cancer research at the moment.
“Only 15 percent of patients with colorectal cancer are suitable to take part in the trial and expanding it to Australia means that we should be able to increase recruitment.
“Ultimately the findings of this research should help cancer patients and potentially change the way that bowel cancer is treated in this particular sub-group of patients.”
The potential significance of this trial was recognised by experts at the world’s largest cancer conference in Chicago last year.
The Trust has received the grant from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) that provides financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation, with the objective of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians.
Dr Dhillon needs to recruit patients with a very specific sub-group of stage three colon cancer.
This is cancer that has spread to local lymph nodes and is treated with surgery and chemotherapy in a bid to prevent it coming back.
Unfortunately, for around 25 percent of patients the cancer will come back.
Dr Dhillon’s study is looking to see whether the addition of the immunotherapy drug, Avelumab, to the chemotherapy will ultimately improve the treatment.
Thanks to the grant Dr Dhillon’s study will now open in six centres across Australia in collaboration with the University of Sydney.
Dr Dhillon explained that hearing the study mentioned at the biggest cancer conference in the world last summer brought a tear to his eye.
“I couldn’t quite believe it,” said Dr Dhillon.
“Here was an idea that little old me had one night being talked about at the biggest cancer conferences as the future of our field. It was incredibly humbling.”
Chief Executive, Louise Stead, said: “Research, development and innovation is part of our DNA and this would not be possible were it not for our exceptional people, like Dr Dhillon, who are committed to developing better treatments and increasing our understanding of disease.
“I would like to thank our staff for their determination to advance healthcare and to our patients for their willingness to help us with this endeavour.”