A potentially revolutionary project, funded by the BDRF, seeks to develop a gold standard method for taking and storing bowel cancer biopsies for use in research.

If successful the newly developed procedure will be used in many future studies in bowel cancer genetics, paving the way for personalised care plans for bowel cancer patients.  Specifically this study will be used to examine what genetic factors may affect response to treatment with chemo- and radiotherapy prior to surgery.

At present, biopsies are only taken to confirm the diagnosis of bowel cancer; these routine samples are of small volume, and so are not enough to allow routine genetic profiling.

BDRF’s landmark priority setting exercise – the Delphi Project – identified the urgent need for guidelines on how to collect biopsies suitable for more comprehensive testing in clinical research studies. As a result, last year a team comprising experts from across the country and led from the Countess of Chester Hospital secured funding from the BDRF to explore this question.

They will collect tumour samples in a standardised fashion before and after surgery.  The results will be compared to similar case series where a standardised protocol was not used.

These researchers aim to determine why some cancers are responsive to chemoradiotherapy while others are less sensitive.  They are trying to identify biomarkers (tumour proteins) relevant to this question.  The Principal Investigator, Mr Dale Vimalachandran, said:

“In the future, it is hoped that the results of this study will define clearly the type and number of biopsies that are required to guide individual personalised cancer therapy. Whilst such therapies are only just over the horizon, they will only be effective with accurate information. It is hoped this biomarker study will underpin much of this.”

Every penny being spent on this grant comes from charitable donations. We rely on our supporters to fund this and other projects which in the future will underpin major advances in treatment and improve patients’ prospects. Please do consider making a donation to BDRF today, to help us fund this and other landmark studies.