Cancer breakthroughs at Manchester shine bright

Tue, 09 Feb 2021 10:01:00 GMT

The University’s contribution to cancer research has been celebrated in a collection of research stories that showcase the diversity of the research undertaken and how it is transforming patient outcomes globally for the one in two of us likely to be diagnosed with some form of cancer during our lifetime.

Produced to coincide with World Cancer Day (Thursday, 4 February) the continued commitment of the global cancer research community at the University has continued to progress advancements in all areas including prevention, earlier detection and best treatment and aftercare, despite being a tumultuous year which saw scientific efforts impacted by the battle against Covid-19.

Cancer is one of the University's five research beacons, examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. It also addresses our social responsibility key theme of better health.

Cancer Beacon and Domain Lead, Professor Rob Bristow said: “Cancer is a beacon and this is one of the reasons I came to the University to both lead, and collaborate with world-leading scientists in a team science approach to tackle complex and challenging questions in cancer research.

As the UK’s and Europe’s leading University on social responsibility, we have a duty and commitment that our research benefits all our patients, regardless of background, and to globally transform our understanding of cancer through our partnerships in Africa and other countries. This underpins our “Precision Cancer Medicine for All” approach in Manchester."

One of the studies features the work of Professor Vaskar whose commitment to sharing knowledge to improve life outcomes for all patients has seen him work with partners in India to ensure children there get access to the same standards of treatment as children in Europe. He has increased survival rate for childhood leukaemia by 15% in just five years.

The theme of better health runs through the case study and podcast highlighting the work of Professor Andrew Renehan, whose work on obesity and cancer was the first to prove a link between obesity and 20 different cancer types, which can start in childhood. Professor Renehan believes the work highlights a health inequality, in the poorer populations have more access to high fat food, thus exacerbating the divide between rich and poor.

Each of the six research case studies shows how Manchester scientists are pioneering new ways of approaching detection and treatment methods and translating these to a change national policy, resulting in new care pathways. Optimal translational of the research means more lives are positively impacted by our work.

Professor Bristow said: “The cancer research stories celebrated in this campaign are just a snapshot of the research brilliance at Manchester. We are constantly testing and trying new ideas, thanks to the way our team science facilitates cross-disciplinary working. For example, our basic scientists and biologists are linking with experts in AI and big data. They are exploring with experts in advanced materials how we can utilise graphene and biowearables in our detection and treatment methods. Manchester's understanding is constantly evolving and challenging itself with research questions that will ultimately benefit local, national and global populations.”

Manchester’s contribution to advancing understanding of the disease and improving outcomes for patients has been celebrated in a poem penned by Manchester poet Tony Walsh to be released World Cancer Day, to highlight their continued commitment to cancer services, despite the on-going pandemic.

You can read the cancer features here and find out more about the Tony Walsh poem here.