Oracle have pledged funding for an exciting new research project at the Institute of Cancer Research, led by Dr Gabriela Kramer-Marek (pictured) and Oracle Honorary Trustee, Professor Kevin Harrington.
The project work, which will take 12 months, will be undertaken by postdoctoral scientist, Dr Carlos Daniel Martins.
In his project, Carlos will be investigating how scientists can use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to look at a patient’s head and neck cancer and assess whether that patient will respond to treatment.
Traditionally, treatment decisions are often based on biopsy specimens. However, we have learnt in recent years that this may not be an accurate reflection of the way that a patient’s disease will respond to treatment as different bits of the same tumour may have a slightly different genetic make-up – a phenomenon known as ‘intratumoural heterogeneity’. This means that treatments that work on one part of the tumour may not work on the whole tumour.
Non-invasive imaging allows the whole tumour to be visualised and for this reason provides an attractive alternative to biopsies.
Using techniques such as PET scanning, Carlos will investigate how we can use imaging to identify certain chemical markers in a patient’s tumour – known as ‘biomarkers’. He will then assess how well these biomarkers can signal whether the patient is likely to respond to their cancer treatment.
By identifying patients who are likely to respond to a particular treatment, doctors will be able to offer personalised therapy and fewer patients will be exposed to the unnecessary side-effects of ineffective treatments.