Over the last ten years, Oracle Cancer Trust has granted over £5m in funding pioneering early-stage research projects. These have paved the way for larger clinical trials to take place to test new drugs, new treatments and new techniques to combat head and neck cancer.
Crucially, without the Oracle ‘seed’ research, these large trials would simply not have been possible; Oracle is filling a research gap. Currently mainstream funding for head and neck cancer is less than 2% in UK, and in recent years has actually declined. This is even more alarming given it is now the sixth most common form of cancer with cases rising rapidly.
Each Oracle research project is rigorously assessed by peer review and independently approved by the Oracle Research Committee. All committees at Oracle are voluntary and non-conflicted.
Oracle is currently supporting five broad areas of research:
- Developing personalised treatment – assessing the specific genetic defects of each patient’s cancer cells and developing anti-cancer drugs which, in combination with radiation, provide a more effective treatment
- Gene/viral therapies – combining radio, chemotherapy and viruses, which are particularly effective at killing cancer cells but have little or no effect on normal, healthy tissue
- Surgical techniques – Recent advances in robotic surgery, which is in the very early stages in the UK, are showing that it could have a transformational effect on head and neck cancer surgery similar to the effect of keyhole surgery in routine operations. Pioneering surgical techniques supported by Oracle have ensured that patients are able to preserve normal functioning of, for example, the voice box
- Improved imaging – improving the quality of scanning to more accurately assess the size and appearance of tumours and to target treatment
- Targeted radiation therapy – to target treatment precisely and avoid healthy tissue damage