A new era for thyroid cancer

Dr Malin Pedersen and Eva Crespo Rodriguez

Under the guidance of Dr Malin Pedersen, Scientific Officer Eva Crespo Rodriguez is testing new drugs which can awaken the patient’s immune system to fight thyroid cancer.

Like all other cancers, thyroid cancer is a disease that affects the DNA, or genetic code of cells.  These genetic changes in cancer can allow tumours to grow more efficiently, spread and become resistant to treatment.

In this project, Dr Pedersen and Eva are testing new drug combinations for patients with treatment-resistant thyroid cancer who do not respond to conventional therapies.

One of the new approaches being tested will involve using drugs that can awaken the patient’s own immune system to the presence of the tumour.  These so-called immunotherapies are showing huge promise across a wide variety of tumour types and Dr Pedersen has already shown this approach can be effective for melanoma but as yet no-one has tested their efficacy in thyroid tumours.

Dr Pedersen says: “I have had significant success with a similar project for malignant melanoma and now with the support of the Oracle Cancer Trust, I am confident that I can make important discoveries that will benefit patients with thyroid cancers.”

Without the research grant from Oracle, which has been supporting the initial exploratory work for this important project, Dr Pedersen would not be able to compete for the funding to take her treatments into a larger clinical trial.

It is hoped that this work will lay the groundwork for the development of new therapies which can confer durable, complete remission of the disease in patients.

This project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, is being generously supported by donations from the late David Peake, The Swire Charitable Trust and the Adrian Swire Charitable Trust.