S:CORT (Stratification in COloRecTal Cancer) is an MRC and Cancer Research UK funded UK-wide multi-disciplinary stratified medicine consortium of clinicians, healthcare professionals, academics and scientists. The team seek to apply cutting edge molecular diagnostic and histopathological technologies to enable improved and tailored treatment of patients colorectal (bowel) cancer.

Currently, clinicians prescribe chemotherapy, biological therapies, radiation therapy and different types of surgeries on the basis of only a few tumour morphology, genetic and demographic features. The result being that many patients receive limited benefit from treatment with significant deleterious side effects (e.g. neuropathy, need for stoma etc.). By undertaking comprehensive molecular analysis of tumour samples from Colorectal Cancer patients and correlating them with response/clinical outcome, S:CORT researchers hope to provide clinicians and patients with additional diagnostic tests and treatment options so that patients receive the optimal treatment combination for their specific cancer.

In the short term, by simply being able to predict with more accuracy which patients will and will not respond to various therapies (radiation, surgery and chemotherapy), they can be targeted to patients in a more tailored way. The major impact of this in the short-term is that patients with a low chance of response to standard treatments can be spared ineffective interventions (and their side effects) and escalated more quickly to more aggressive options. In the medium term, some highly treatment-sensitive patients may be able to have less aggressive or even no surgery. In the long term, a more detailed understanding of the fundamental biology driving treatment resistance is hoped to yield novel strategies for treating them.

This research is lead from Oxford by Professor Tim Maughan however, the consortium’s work is driven by world leading clinical and scientific expertise from across the UK. Pathology expertise is provided by Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez (Queen’s University Belfast), Professor Philip Quirke (University of Leeds) and Prof. Viktor Koelzer (Univeristat Berne). The molecular analysis is being led by Dr Philip Dunne (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr Andrew Beggs (University of Birmingham) and Peter Campbell (Sanger Institute). Informatics and statistical expertise is provided by Professor Francesca Buffa and Professor Chris Holmes from the University of Oxford, and Professor Rick Kaplan and Louise Brown (University College London). Professor Mark Lawler (Queen’s University Belfast) and Professor Joshua Hordern (Oxford University) provide input on the economic and social impact of implementing S:CORT findings. Additional clinical and scientific leadership, input and oversight is provided by Professor Ian Tomlinson (University of Birmingham), Professor Simon Leedham (University of Oxford), Professor Dion Morton (University of Birmingham) and Professor Sabine Tejpar (UZ Leuven).