May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre will be posting a series of blog posts highlighting the contribution of Oxford researchers to global efforts to tackle Melanoma.

Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, and although it is more common in older people, it is relatively common in younger people. In 2015 about 16,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with melanoma, and within the last decade this number has increased by almost 50%. Over 2,500 of these people will develop advanced disease. Treatment of Advanced Melanoma has recently been transformed by introducing immunotherapies and targeted inhibitors in the treatment of patients who are not cured by surgery.

Oxford’s researchers have a broad range of scientific backgrounds and expertise, and are focused on trying to develop novel immunotherapies (such as innate immune stimulators and oncolytic viruses) to treat Melanoma. They are also interested in how the behaviour of melanoma cells can change under stress. Other scientists are working on better tests to predict who benefits from new treatments, like immunotherapy, and to identify who is likely to get side effects. One example of the type of projects Oxford researchers have been involved in is the early clinical development of the new drug IMCgp100, which has shown promise in treating Melanoma patients, whose cancer cannot be removed with surgery or has spread to other parts of the body.

Further efforts of the Oxford community are typified in the articles summarised below.
(Researcher spotlights will be listed here throughoyt May)

Prof Mark Middleton – Co-director of the Cancer research UK Oxford Centre & Head of the Department of Oncology.

Being a part of cancer drug discoveries

Susan Cakebread, gives her account of being on an experimental drug trial here in Oxford
National Foundation for Cancer Research

Investigating the effects of co-morbidities on liver cancer risk

Dr Philippa Matthews and colleagues review the associations between liver cancer risk and co-morbidities and other metabolic factors in individuals with chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

Potential of DNA-based blood tests for detecting pancreatic cancer earlier

Dr Shivan Sivakumar and colleagues evaluate the current progress and future potential in using genetic and epigenetic methods for detecting pancreatic cancer DNA in the blood

Bioengineering the human gut

An interdisciplinary collaboration generates an advanced model of the human gastrointestinal tract with broad applications for disease research and regenerative medicine

SCALOP team discover new pancreatic cancer biomarker

The SCALOP clinical trial team have uncovered a new therapeutic target for locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Read more about it and the next steps for the SCALOP-2 trial.
Image from an endoscopy video with the detected artefacts highlighted with coloured boxes.

Using AI to improve the quality of endoscopy videos

A multidisciplinary team of researchers has developed a deep-learning framework for improving endoscopy to aid cancer detection.

New melanoma drug a step closer to the clinic

Clinical trials into the use of Tebentafusp for metastatic uveal melanoma have been conducted by the University of Oxford and Immunocore. The positive results of the most recent trial mean this drug could now be used in future treatment.

The search for pancreatic cancer biomarkers

Nuffield Department of Population Health researchers are using the China Kadoorie Biobank to identify potential protein biomarkers in the blood that could be used to predict the presence or development of pancreatic cancer

What we can learn from cancer survivors

Understanding how an individual survives cancer, and why they respond well to therapy, can be vital in identifying new therapeutic targets. A new project seeks to see why some advanced pancreatic cancer patients overcome the odds and respond positively to treatment.