Queen's leads 6-million-euro European study to combat bowel cancer

December 11, 2013

Queen's University has announced it is to lead a €6 million European study to find new treatments for bowel cancer.

The research, which involves 13 partners in eight different European countries, will look at two major genetic factors which make bowel cancer difficult to treat.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second major cause of cancer mortality. It is the third most common cause of cancer in Europe, with over 200,000 deaths per year. Currently over 50 per cent of colorectal cancer patients develop an aggressive form of the disease which spreads quickly and does not respond to standard therapy. Patients' survival more than five years after diagnosis of this form of colorectal cancer is less than five per cent.

The new research, which takes place under a recently established European Consortium (MErCuRIC), led by Queen's University and funded by the European Commission's Framework VII Programme, will build on recent studies which have increased the understanding of what goes wrong in the colorectal cancer cell.

The new study is aiming to develop new diagnostics and therapies through a programme of research which will include a translational clinical trial of over 1000 people and involving a number of SME and industrial partners including Pfizer.

Dr Sandra van Schaeybroeck, Co-Ordinator of the Research Programme from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen's, said: "Our research has identified two key genes that are contributing to the aggressive spread of colorectal cancer. The research being carried out by MErCuRIC will allow us to bring this research to the next level by developing and conducting a clinical trial that targets the products of these two genes in patients with metastic or aggressive colorectal cancer."

The pan European clinical trial component of the Programme of Research is being led by the University of Oxford. Professor Tim Maughan from the University of Oxford and who has led a number of key clinical trials programmes in colorectal cancer, said: "This is an important study which has the potential to develop new approaches to treat patients who have what is essentially an incurable disease. Bringing together world leading researchers from across Europe has the potential to make important developments in the war against this very aggressive form of cancer."

Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's, said: "At a local level, the collaborative nature of the research that led up to the successful grant award, involving the CCRCB and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, emphasises the importance of a bench to bedside continuum linking the researcher and the clinician, with the patient at the centre of this process."

The Consortium brings together world leading researchers from the UK, Ireland, Spain, Belguim, France, Italy and the Czech Republic.
-end-
For further information visit http://mercuric.eu/

Media inquiries to Claire O'Callaghan, Queen's University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

Queen's University Belfast

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