Scots scientists to lead £5 million project in bowel cancer research

Retired education consultant Iain Kerr was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013.
Retired education consultant Iain Kerr was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013.
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Scottish scientists are to lead a £5 million joint UK and European bowel cancer project to establish a network of clinicians to develop more targeted treatment for patients.

The multi-million-pound project will be led by Professor Owen Sansom and Dr Andrew Campbell from Glasgow’s Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute. They will team up with two of Europe’s leading cancer charities to help find better treatments for the disease, which claims the lives of around 1,600 Scots each year.

When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than nine in ten people with bowel cancer will survive for five years or more. But for those patients diagnosed at the latest stage, only around one in ten will survive for five years or more.

To accelerate progress into bowel cancer research, the Glasgow scientists will lead a project to establish a European and UK network of clinicians and scientists that will bring together the greatest minds in the field to develop more targeted treatments for patients.

Dr Campbell said: “We’ve made big strides towards beating bowel cancer – survival is improving and has more than doubled in the last 40 years. But it’s still the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, and bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer-related death in Europe.”

He added: “Our goal with this game-changing project is to work together with our colleagues in the UK, Spain and Italy to share information and cancer models, so we can better understand the different subtypes of bowel cancer and figure out what is driving them.

“Our hope is this information will help us find new, more targeted treatments that could increase survival for these patients.”

The project is one of six to receive funding from Cancer Research UK’s Accelerator Awards programme – designed to speed up progress in translational research through collaborations across the UK and in Europe.

Dr Victoria Steven, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “This award is fantastic recognition of the world-leading research taking place in Glasgow, which will help shape a better future for bowel cancer patients.

“Every hour, around four people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland. That’s why we’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

“But we can’t do it alone. We hope our Right Now campaign will inspire people to take action and play their part in beating cancer.”