National research study to revolutionise cancer treatments gets underway in Norfolk
A large-scale research trial is getting underway in Norfolk which is part of a nationwide study to revolutionise cancer treatments, leading the way to personalised medicine and more effective treatments, based on a genetic diagnosis.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is one of the hospitals in the UK which is taking part in the 100,000 Genomes Project, a world-leading DNA project which aims to sequence 100,000 complete sets of DNA from around 70,000 NHS patients. Groups of hospitals are recruiting patients with a different form of cancer and NNUH will be recruiting 625 patients who have cancer of the colon, kidney, testes and ovary over the next three years.
The Norfolk based study is being run jointly between NNUH and the University of East Anglia and Catherine Harris, who lives in North Norfolk, is the first patient to be recruited to the research trial.
Professor Krishna Sethia, Consultant Urologist at NNUH says: “We are one of the biggest cancer centres in the UK, treating over 6,000 patients each year. This places us in a strong position to drive forward this study which will lead to the development of more targeted and effective treatments.”
Professor Colin Cooper, who leads on Cancer Genetics at the University of East Anglia, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership on this important study and to be able to use our expertise to bring forward a new era for cancer treatments.”
Sequencing patients’ genomes from blood and tissue samples will provide a more accurate diagnosis for a range of cancer types. It can be used to show how a cancer may evolve and change over time, predict potential future health issues for patients, as well as identify treatments to which a patient will best respond.
Treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy, often provide a ‘blanket treatment’, meaning that most patients with a particular type of cancer are all treated the same way, with the risk of over-treating or under-treating certain patients. This can cause unnecessary side effects and discomfort to patients who are potentially not receiving the best treatment for them. Being able to ‘read’ and understand a patient’s DNA ‘barcode’ allows for greater personalised treatment for patients, which will improve their cancer journey, increase survival rates and improve the quality of life for NHS patients.
North Norfolk patient Catherine Harris, aged 65, had been feeling unwell for about three months before she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Six weeks later she had surgery to remove the affected kidney in June 2016 followed by an overnight stay in hospital.
At her pre-operative appointment before surgery, Catherine was asked if she would take part in the 100,000 genomes research project.
Mrs Harris says: “I am very pleased to join the study and hope the results will be able to help patients in future. Signing up for the research was quite simple with some forms to fill in and a blood sample was taken.”
Mrs Harris, who has three adult children and five grandchildren, is recovering well from her surgery. She says: “Compared to other patients with cancer, I’ve been fortunate not to need any follow up treatment after surgery. Now I can continue my recovery and enjoy my retirement with my husband and family.”