Molecular profiling of early lung cancer lesions could lead to more rapid diagnosis and potential new treatments

Molecular profiling of early lung cancer lesions could lead to more rapid diagnosis and potential new treatments

Professor Sam Janes, UCL

The results of a ten year study into the origins of lung cancer funded by Rosetrees Trust and other partners has been published in Nature Medicine. The research, led by Professor Sam Janes at UCL investigated precancerous lung lesions found in the airway. Of these half will actually become lung cancer, while others will disappear or remain benign without becoming harmful. Under the microscope, the lesions look the same, making it difficult to know which lesions to treat.

Professor Janes and his team have for the first time, discovered the differences between the lesions that will become invasive and those that are harmless, and they can accurately predict which lesions will become cancerous.

“Our study helps to understand the earliest stages of lung cancer development, by figuring out what’s going on inside these cells even before they become cancerous,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Sam Janes (UCL Division of Medicine and University College London Hospitals, UCLH).

“Using this information, we may be able to develop screening tests, and new treatments that could stop cancer in its tracks.”

“We are now continuing our research to further understand how these genes are driving cancer progression, and to see which ones could be targeted by new drug treatments,” said co-first author Dr Vitor Teixeira (UCL Division of Medicine).

The study involved researchers at UCL Division of Medicine, UCL Cancer Insititute, UCLH, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Boston University, The Francis Crick Institute, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and University of St Andrews, and was supported by Wellcome, Rosetrees Trust, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Welton Trust, Garfield Weston Trust, Stoneygate Trust, UCLH Charitable Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Stand Up to Cancer, and the University College London Hospitals National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre.

New Rosetrees Trust Funding Schemes

New Rosetrees Trust Funding Schemes

We’re pleased to announce the launch of a new fellowship scheme and a modification to our seedcorn scheme.

Young Enterprise Fellowships

Young Enterprise Fellowships (YEFs) are aimed specifically at recently qualified postdoctoral researchers primarily in the fields of engineering, computer science, maths and physics who wish to develop a long-term programme of biomedical research within a UK university. We’re keen to encourage fresh thinking to tackle clinical problems and would like to see more ideas and input from physical scientists, mathematicians and engineers. We’re looking for projects that will be genuinely innovative and potentially transformative. The fellowship is aimed at junior researchers and would facilitate their first steps towards independence.  More details can be found here.

Modified Seedcorn Funding

We’re also modifying our seedcorn funding scheme. Most grant applications and fellowships require a significant amount of pilot data but funding for pilot data projects is hard to come by so we’re modifying our existing seedcorn funding scheme with the eventual aim of potentially funding more projects. All shortlisted projects will be assessed by an academic review panel and grants will be limited to 18 months duration and £15,000 and we will not require interim reporting only one final report at the end of the project. We’ll use these final reports to identify projects that we might be interested in funding further. Further details can be found here.

Genetic study of eating disorders

Genetic study of eating disorders

The research of MQ/Rosetrees fellow, Dr Clare Llewellyn was recently featured in a Guardian newspaper article. Clare’s research focuses on identifying the role of genetics and early eating habits in conditions such as bulimia and anorexia. The study aims to build on research, some of it conducted by Clare, which examined the influence of genetics and childhood eating patterns on obesity. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and such conditions are estimated to cost the UK about £15bn a year. She will analyse data from twins whose mental health, genetic and parental factors have been tracked from birth through to their teenage years.

The full article can be found here.