04 Oct 2008 01:00:00.000
Children who are diagnosed with cancer could benefit from better diagnosis and treatment in the future thanks to a new research project involving clinicians and scientists at The University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Hospitals.
Experts at the University are part of the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group which has just secured £2.5 million pounds from Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. They will use the money over the next five years to develop and test new ways of scanning childhood tumours in depth to give doctors a more detailed diagnosis. It will also give them a better indication of how to treat the tumour and whether it will respond to new drugs.
The grant is part of a nationwide investment of £50m to establish four large cancer imaging centres and five cancer imaging research programmes. The cancer imaging initiative will help the development and introduction of the latest imaging technologies to help advances in basic and clinical cancer research.
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Cancer is the most common cause of death from disease in children with most cases involving solid tumours. Around 1,500 children are diagnosed every year in the UK. At present conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the usual technique for scanning of patients but it provides limited, mainly anatomical, information. This research project will look at how more accurate ways of analysing tumours, using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) and Diffusion/Perfusion MRI of tumour tissue, can be better and more widely used by doctors treating children with cancer. Diffusion MRI measures the molecular mobility of water in tissue, while perfusion MRI measures the rate at which blood is delivered to tissue. It gives a much clearer picture of the nature and composition of the tumour in a non-invasive way. Treatment can then be more accurately tailored.
The Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, funded by Cancer Research UK, runs clinical trials for paediatric cancer at specialist centres across the UK. It has formed a Functional Imaging Group to develop the use of the techniques in treating children with brain tumours. This significant new grant means the group’s research can be extended to examine other Magnetic Resonance methods and their use on tumours in the rest of the body. The information will be disseminated and evaluated through the group’s established clinical trials network in the UK. This will make sure as many children as possible benefit from the latest MRI technology.
Professor of Paediatric Neuro-Oncology, Richard Grundy, from Nottingham University Medical School, said: “We all delighted that we have won this grant. Fortunately cancer in children is relatively uncommon compared to adults, reinforcing the need to develop and test the role of new techniques or treatments as a collaborative effort. This important grant from Cancer Research UK and the EPSRC allows us to investigate advanced Magnetic Resonance imaging to improve our understanding and treatment of childhood cancer. This funding and recognition of NUH should also help our aspirations locally to develop an imaging centre dedicated for children as part of the new Nottingham Children’s Hospital development.”
Professor Herbie Newell, Director of Translational Research at Cancer Research UK, said: “Imaging is an invaluable tool in the fight against cancer. Being able to see what’s happening inside cells is vitally important in understanding how treatments are currently working and the best ways to improve them.”
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Notes to Editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.
Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.
About the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests around £740 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. Further information about EPSRC can be found at www.epsrc.ac.uk. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.
About Cancer Research UK
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.
• Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
• Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
• Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
• Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.
• For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org