Our Research Projects

Use the map below or the drop down menus to see each research project throughout the UK.  (Zoom in further to see individual projects in the same institution.)

London
  • Project Ref: 2012/01/MCCAUGHAN
    Principal Investigator: Dr Frank McCaughan
    Institution: Kings College London
    Status: Finished

    Title: Developing single molecule strategies for early lung cancer detection

    Summary
    Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related mortality. This proposal focuses on the potential of using digital PCR strategies to detect cell free genomic DNA in peripheral blood as a novel approach to early lung cancer detection. The aims are: (i) to establish protocols to facilitate the parallel analysis of genomic and transcriptional signatures from resected lung cancers and paired non-invasive samples (ii) to use single molecule strategies to detect lung cancer molecular biomarkers in peripheral blood cell-free circulating DNA.
     We have  specific expertise in single molecule analysis/digital PCR - a technique that which affords certain advantages over competing PCR protocols. It is an extremely sensitive technique that offers unrivaled precision in quantitation. It is therefore particularly suited to the detection and quantitation of rare events in peripheral blood and should be readily adapted to the challenge of lung cancer early detection. In this pilot project we shall establish the potentional to use this approach in the early detection of lung cancer.

    Available output reports
    Detection and Quantitation of Biomarkers in Archived Tissue and Serial Plasma Samples in Patients with Lung Cancer


     

  • Project Ref: 2012/05/JANES
    Principal Investigator: Dr Sam Janes
    Institution: University College London
    Status: Finished

    Title: Infrared Spectral Biomarkers of Lung Cancer Risk

    Summary
    We hypothesise that infrared spectroscopy of buccal mucosal cells will detect patients with or stratify those at risk of lung cancer. Optically detected high risk patients can then enter more intensive screening programmes including radiology and autofluorescence bronchoscopy. Tobacco smoke exposure causes a host response to toxic damage resulting in a widespread ‘field of injury’ throughout the lung extending from the parenchyma to the nose and mouth. Cancers can arise anywhere within this field injury. This injured epithelium is morphologically normal but gives abnormal readings with infrared spectroscopy and extends to the oro-respiratory tract, including the buccal mucosa. We therefore propose to develop this innovation as a cheap, non-invasive, high throughput technique for detecting individuals at high risk of developing lung cancer and therefore increase the number of curable lung cancers detected. 

     

  • Project Ref: 2013/06/JANES
    Principal Investigator: Dr Sam Janes
    Institution: University College London
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Understanding the molecular mechanisms leading to invasive lung cancer formation
     
    Summary

    Squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) of the lung accounts for around 30% of lung cancer cases.  It is difficult to detect early and even CT screening tends to miss early SqCC lesions unlike adenocarcinomas, which appear as small nodules. We aim to understand how SqCC develops and use this information to develop new strategies of early detection and possibly chemoprevention.

    Available Research Outputs

     


     
  • Project Ref: 2013/07/MADDOCKS
    Principal Investigator: Dr Matthew Maddocks
    Institution: Kings College London
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Respiratory and peripheral muscle function in patients with lung cancer
     
    Summary
    In this project we aim to determine the pattern and the extent of weakness across different muscles of the chest, arms and legs in people with lung cancer. We will also explore if various clinical characteristics, for example the level of burden from the cancer (inflammation), or a person’s level of disability, result in different patterns of muscle weakness or more severe weakness in certain muscle groups.

     

     
  • Project Ref: 2014/06/TEIXEIRA
    Principal Investigator: Dr Vitor Teixeira
    Institution: University College London
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Matrix metallopeptidase 12 and LIM domain 7 as key targets to stop lung cancer progress
     
    Summary
    Understanding how normal lung airway cells develop into pre-cancerous lesions and eventually cancer. Building on existing samples to prove whether two particular genes are crucial in the development of squamous cell carcinoma with the aim of ultimately developing ways to identify these biomarkers earlier and stem the progression of cancer.

     
  • Project Ref: 2014/10/JANES
    Principal Investigator: Prof Sam Janes
    Institution: University College London
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung arises from lesions that develop in severity and eventually progress into cancer
     
    Summary
    Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung arises from lesions that develop in severity and eventually progress into cancer. Some lesions regress before becoming cancer, so researchers will seek to understand why these differences occur. The study hopes to identify novel biological markers that accurately predict whether a lesion will eventually grow into a cancer, leading to targeted therapies for those patients whose lesions are likely to progress.

     

     
  • Project Ref: 2015/03/GIANGRECO
    Principal Investigator: Dr Adam Giangreco
    Institution: University College London
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Identifying mechanisms that drive the migration of early lung cancers 
     
    Summary
    Lung cancers are the most lethal type of cancer in the UK.  This is because most patients are diagnosed only once curative treatments are no longer possible.  In order to save lives we need to understand how and why early lung cancer develops.  We recently found that pre-cancerous lung cells move throughout the lungs before forming tumours.  If we can learn how this occurs we can identify new ways to treat lung cancers at their earliest stage.  This project will answer whether early lung cancer movement is due to changes in the cells themselves of the lung as a whole.

     
  • Project Ref: 2015/08/WARDLE
    Principal Investigator: Prof Sam Janes
    Institution: University College London
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Addressing the information needs of lung cancer CT screening participants
     
    Summary
    Poor outcomes are seen in lung cancer, often due to late diagnosis.  Screening for lung cancer using low radiation dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning facilitates earlier diagnosis and increases the chance of curative treament.  LDCT screening was shown to reduce death due to lung cancer by 20% in a large American trial and is now recommended by several medical professional groups, mainly in the United States.  The UK National Screening Committee will make a decision on LDCT screening for lung cancer in 2016, pending the results of some large European trials.
  • Project Ref: 2015/10/MCCAUGHAN
    Principal Investigator: Dr Frank McCaughan
    Institution: Cambridge
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Exploiting a unique organotypic model of bronchial dysplasia to improve the early detection of lung cancer
     
    Summary
    Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death.  There is an imperative to improve the early diagnosis of this disease.  Why?  Because we know that patients who are diagnosed early do much better than most of our patients who are usually diagnosed with advanced disesase.  An exciting laboratory model of early lung cancer may allow us to identify new molecular biomarkers that could help to detect lung cancer earlier.  

  • Project Ref: 2016/04/WALLER
    Principal Investigator:
    Institution: University College London
    Status
     
    Title: Patient experiences of and psychological responses to lung cancer screening (PEOPLE study)
     
    Summary
    Screening high-risk patients for early stage lung cancer using low-dose CT scans has been shown to reduce deaths from lung cancer by 20% compared with X-ray, and is now underway in the US.  This year, the UK National Screening Committee is reviewing evidence from European trials to decide whether to recommend screening in the UK.  Local screening pilots have already begun.  The experiences of patients should inform the way screening is delivered and communicated, to promote psychological well-being, manage distress associated with abnormal results that require surveillance, and motivate positive behaviour change.  This research could maximise patient benefit from any future lung cancer screening programme by guiding health care professionals in delivering a service that promotes psychological well-being, minimises distress among patients with abnormal findings, and promotes positive behaviour change in smoking and early detection.  It will also contribute to the scientific evidence base for screening implementation and set the agenda for future patient-focussed research in lung cancer screening. 

     

  • Project Ref: 2016/05/Black
    Principal Investigator
    Institution: University College London
    Status
     
    Title: Safety netting and re-consultation for lung cancer symptoms: GP and patient perspectives
     
    Summary
    From the first noticed symptoms, it takes longer to reach a diagnosis for lung cancer than for many of the other major cancer types. This fact greatly contributes to poorer survival rates among lung cancer patients. The major problem is that some of the most common initial symptoms for lung cancer, which prompt patients to visit their GP for the first time, can seem like nothing much to worry about, such as a cough and tiredness. These symptoms, indicating a low risk but not no risk of lung cancer, are classed as “low predictive value symptoms”, and as such do not qualify for the two week wait referral which would lead to a speedy diagnosis. Primary care ‘safety netting’ covers a broad range of strategies to better ensure that a patient will return for consultation if their original symptoms do not resolve.  There are already guidelines about safety netting activities, but there is little evidence about how these strategies works in practice. Understanding how effective safety netting strategies currently are and how they can be optimized in primary care will help to improve the timely diagnosis and survival rate among lung cancer patients.

     

  • Project Ref: 2016/07/HYNDS
    Principal Investigator
    Institution: University College London
    Status
     
    Title: Understanding pre-malignant squamous cell carcinoma cell biology enabling targeted early clinical intervention
     
    Summary
    Of 40,000 lung cancers diagnosed in England and Wales annually, 43% are squamous cell carcinomas (SqCCs). Pre-invasive SqCCs arise within the airways and are defined by step-wise changes in the morphology of the epithelium: mild, moderate and severe dysplasia through to carcinoma-in-situ (CIS). CIS lesions can progress to become invasive SqCCs but can also regress to a normal epithelium. At UCLH, we are monitoring a cohort of patients with pre-invasive endobronchial lesions longitudinally and studying the characteristics of progressive lesions. This project aims, for the first time, to expand cells from CIS patient biopsies establishing a vital new tool in the investigation and testing of preventative therapies.

     

  • Project Ref: 2016/17/JANES
    Principal Investigator
    Institution: University College London
    Status
     
    Title: Validation and delivery of infrared spectral biomarkers of lung cancer risk
     
    Summary
    Lung cancer is generally asymptomatic until late stage development where it is often past curable. Currently there is no form of general population screening that would identify patients with lung cancer before exhibiting any symptoms. This project will research the possibility of developing a simple and statistically robust method for general population screening for lung cancer using only a mouth swab from the patient. Where the primary aim of the research is to enable a method whereby patients could test their own mouth swabs on small machine in a pharmacy.

     

Manchester
  • Project Ref: 2012/03/CROSBIE
    Principal Investigator: Dr Phil Crosbie
    Institution: University of Manchester
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: A search for blood borne biomarkers of early stage lung cancer
     
    Summary
    A marker of lung cancer in blood would be a valuable adjunct in the management of patients with this disease given the inaccessible nature of the thoracic cavity. Clinical proteomics offers an exciting opportunity to identify new disease biomarkers in surrogate tissue e.g. plasma. However the plasma proteome is a highly complex mix of many thousands of proteins that can obscure the presence of clinically relevant differences in lower abundance proteins. This study will examine plasma, using iTRAQ labelling / mass spectrometry, sampled from the pulmonary vein directly draining a cancer-bearing lobe from patients undergoing curative surgery for NSCLC. By comparing this ‘high’ signal sample with plasma from the pulmonary artery just prior to re-entry into the lung and a pulmonary vein draining a noncancerous lobe, which we hypothesise, would contain much lower levels of cancer proteins, we hope to maximise the chance of detecting a cancer specific signal.

     

  • Project Ref: 2014/09/CROSBIE
    Principal Investigator: Dr Phil Crosbie
    Institution: University of Manchester
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Investigation of a novel circulating tumour cell detection device in early NSCLC
     
    Summary
    Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are rare cells that can be detected in blood and are thought to be responsible for the spread of cancer from primary tumour to distant sites around the body. Secondary cancer deposits (metastases) are the main cause of death among cancer patients. This study will investigate whether a new piece of technology is more effective than existing methods in detecting CTCs. 
     
Liverpool
  • Project Ref: 2012/04/LILOGLOU
    Principal Investigator: Dr Triantafillos Liloglou
    Institution: University of Liverpool
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: MicroRNA biomarkers in surrogate airway tissues for early lung cancer detection 
     
    Summary
    Airway epithelium, as a surrogate marker of an individual’s carcinogen insult and response to genetic and epigenetic damage, is a potential source of early detection, risk-related biomarkers. Thus far the utility of microRNA gene expression in this setting for upper airway samples (e.g. buccal and nasal) has not been proven.  This pilot study aims to show that microRNAs signatures for risk can be measured using quantitative PCR from these minimally invasive samples.  Archival and ongoing LLP sample collections will be used to investigate yield and quality of microRNA. High throughput TLDA microfluidic qPCR assays will be performed to profile hundreds of microRNAs across samples, from high risk score and low risk score cases and controls; with subsequent technical validation of differentially expressed microRNAs.  These proof-of-principle studies will, if successful, provide a platform for wider studies and candidates for further clinical validation as molecular markers supplementing the epidemiological LLP risk model.

    Available Output Reports


     
  • Project Ref: 2013/03/LILOGLOU
    Principal Investigator: Dr Triantafillos Liloglou
    Institution: University of Liverpool
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Validation of lung cancer diagnostic DNA methylation signature in plasma 
     
    Summary
    The appearance of clinical lung cancer symptoms present much later than the actual formation of a small tumour) which can be efficiently treated if detected in time. We have identified lung cancer specific methylation molecular changes that can be used to detect lung cancer in bronchial washings with very high diagnostic accuracy. Bronchoscopy is, however, a labour intensive and expensive hospital process, which is not fit for the purpose of population screening. We thus now seek to validate the methylation specific test in plasma (the liquid of blood) to enable the identification of individuals with small lung tumours prior to clinical manifestation. 

     


     

  • Project Ref: 2014/05/LILOGLOU
    Principal Investigator: Dr Triantafillos Liloglou
    Institution: University of Liverpool
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Assessment of long non-coding RNA deregulation in lung cancer 
     
    Summary

    Using the latest experimental technology, researchers will seek to identify the most unusual types of molecules known as long non-coding RNAs in non-small lung cancer samples. It is hoped this research will discover a unique lung cancer-specific signature that will ultimately allow clinicians to detect and treat the disease earlier.

    Available Research Outputs
    Epigentic Biomarkers in lung cancer

     


     

  • Project Ref: 2015/11/LILOGLOU
    Principal Investigator: Dr Triantafillos Liloglou
    Institution: University of Liverpool
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Molecular profiling of lung cancer exosomes for development of early diagnostic strategies 
     
    Summary
    Exosomes are tiny membrane-bound capsules that are formed within the cells and carry a particular load of DNA, RNA and proteins.  Cancer cells release exosomes containing signals that promote cancer growth. They can travel long distances in the body to prepare the “docking stations” for metastasis.  Cancer exosomes could also cause other cells to become cancerous and promote tumour growth.  The detection of cancer-derived exosomes in the blood provides a unique opportunity for developing biomarkers enabling detection of the tumour before it is clinically visible and for monitoring its progress.

     

  • Project Ref: 2017/02/LILOGLOU
    Principal Investigator: Dr Triantafillos Liloglou
    Institution: University of Liverpool
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Validation of a plasma extracellular vesicle miRNA (EV-miRNA) diagnostic signature for lung cancer
    Summary
    Lung cancer is most frequently diagnosed upon clinical manifestation; almost half of cases in emergency services, by which time treatment options are limited and survival is low. It is clear that early diagnosis is imperative to save lives and this has to be implemented in high risk individuals before symptoms arise. Consequently, a high sensitivity and specificity test is required that can be used on specimens easily acquired in a non-invasive manner, such as blood.
     
    Following on from the RCLCF funded pilot study (see project ref: 2015/11/Liloglou), this project will investigate the microRNAs identified in the pilot to see which ones work best as a test; how sensitive the test is (what proportion of cancers can be detected) and how specific it is (does it only detect lung cancer) with a view to improving early diagnosis.
     
Leicester
  • Project Ref: 2012/08/SHAW
    Principal Investigator: Dr Jacqueline Shaw
    Institution: University of Leicester
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Early detection of NSCLC by deep sequencing of circulating free DNA
     
    Summary
    Molecular characterization of circulating free DNA (cfDNA) is vital to aid cancer diagnosis and determine individual therapies.  We have recently demonstrated that genomic analysis of cfDNA can distinguish between patients with primary breast cancer and healthy controls. Molecular screening of cfDNA is also applicable to lung cancer. The aim of this project is to provide a proof of concept for early detection of NSCLC using multiplex sequencing of key cancer genes in cfDNA.  This will be achieved by targeted deep sequencing of 46 genes in cfDNA using the Ion AmpliSeq Cancer Panel; firstly in 20 patients with advanced NSCLC and subsequently in 40 patients with known early (Stage I/II) NSCLC (comparing cfDNA to matched tumour) and 20 healthy age-matched, smoking matched controls.  This research may ultimately lead to increased survival of patients, due to earlier detection of lung cancers, and may aid in stratifying patients at risk to targeted therapies.
Southampton
 
Sheffield
  • Project Ref: 2013/08/TEARE
    Principal Investigator: Dr Marion Teare
    Institution: University of Sheffield
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Developing and improving lung cancer risk models
     
    Summary
    Several lung cancer risk models have been proposed. Each has been developed with respect to a specific population or cohort. Some research has been done to compare the performance of these models and extend them to include other factors. The emphasis at the moment is to choose between these models rather than to build on the combined evidence.  This study seeks to find if existing lung cancer risk models can be improved through combined meta-analytical techniques.

     

  • Project Ref: 2015/07/COX
    Principal Investigator: Dr Angela Cox
    Institution: University of Sheffield
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Developing a blood based biomarker test to detect early lung cancer
     
    Summary
    Lung cancer has one of the lowest cancer survival rates because most patients already have advanced disease by the time they have symptoms, and curative treatments cannot be offered.  Thereofre, if we could identify lung cancer patients at an earlier stage, more patients could be treated effectively and survive. In people with lung cancer, changes in the DNA from the cancer cells can be detected in the blood.  Based on this observation, we are developing a blood test of "liquid biopsy" to screen individuals at high risk of lung cancer to try and detect tumours early.
Bristol
Nottingham
  • Project Ref: 2012/20/WILCOCK
    Principal Investigator: Dr Andrew Wilcock
    Institution: University of Nottingham
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Lung cancer diagnosed following emergency admission: improving patient experiences and outcomes
     
    Summary

    About 38% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed following an emergency admission (DFEA), the highest of any cancer. This represents an estimated 15,000 admissions, 168,000 bed days, and costs £37million p.a. Prognosis for this group is particularly poor with only 9% surviving 1year. However, little is known about the experiences of the DFEA group. The RCLCF considers the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey (NCPES) biased toward fitter patients and have thus recommended that the experiences of the ‘most ill’ are also captured to provide a complete picture of all patients. The NCPES have no plans to do this. Thus, specific research is required to better understand the experiences of the DFEA group which represents the ‘most ill’ patients with lung cancer. By identifying areas for improvement in the diagnostic and care pathway these data will inform how outcomes and experiences of these patients and their carers can be improved.

    Available Research Outputs
    Lung cancer diagnosed following emergency admission: a mixed methods study protocol to improve understanding of patients’ characteristics, needs, experiences and outcomes


  • Project Ref: 2014/07/WILCOCK
    Principal Investigator: Dr Andrew Wilcock
    Institution: University of Nottingham
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Is clarithromycin a potential treatment for cachexia in people with lung cancer?
     
    Summary
    Weight loss (cachexia) is common in lung cancer patients, causing them to lose muscle strength and mobility. Inflammation caused by cancer then increases the need for hospital treatment and ultimately harms their chances of survival. This project will seek to understand whether a certain antibiotic with anti-inflammatory qualities can become a viable and effective treatment to improve the outcome of patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

    Available Research Outputs
     
     
  • Project Ref: 2017/04/Tata
    Principal Investigator: Dr Laila J Tata
    Institution: University of Nottingham
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Evaluating lung cancer patient experiences: a National Lung Cancer Audit linked study
     
    Summary
    Lung cancer is the most common cause of all cancer deaths in the UK and yet the uptake of anticancer treatment is not as high as it could be for those who might benefit. The level to which patient interaction with healthcare professionals along their cancer journey has an influence on their decisions and health outcomes remains unclear. To further improve quality of life, it is important that patient experiences of healthcare pathways are evaluated relative to their lung cancer treatment and outcomes; however, to date such experiences are limited to small investigations lacking details of patient and service features.
     
    This study will investigate whether the experiences of people who could benefit from treatment are positive or negative with regards to events and communication along their cancer care journey; and whether these are associated with particular features of their healthcare setting, characteristics of their cancer, or their own attributes. Furthermore the study will look at whether patients with shared experiences make similar decisions and have similar outcomes, using the results to improve key aspects of the cancer pathway.
     
Stirling
  • Project Ref: 2012/22/EVANS
    Principal Investigator: Dr Josie Evans
    Institution: University of Stirling
    Status: Finished
     
    Title: Spontaneous smoking cessation prior to a lung cancer diagnosis: a case-control study
     
    Summary
    In a recent American study, 55 (48%) of 115 lung cancer patients quit smoking approximately two years before they perceived symptoms; and were able to quit relatively easily. The authors hypothesized that spontaneous attempts at smoking cessation in some long-term smokers may be a presenting prodrome or ‘symptom’ of lung cancer. They could not confirm this because there was no control group.  We will determine whether smokers who present spontaneously for smoking cessation services have a higher risk, on average, of lung cancer in the short-term, than smokers who don’t attend. If so, this could be a novel means of identifying people who could be screened for earlier diagnosis.  We will conduct an epidemiological case-control study using record-linkage of existing NHS datasets in Tayside, Scotland. We will compare smoking cessation attempts among cases (patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer) and controls (smokers without lung cancer) during the previous 2 years. 

     
  • Project Ref: 2015/12/ BAULD
    Principal Investigator: Prof Linda Bauld
    Institution: University of Stirling
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: Feasibility and acceptability of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation in lung cancer patients 
     
    Summary
    Few lung cancer patients who are smokers are able to give up during their treatment.  This is despite the fact that stopping smoking improves cancer treatment outcomes, recovery and quality of life.  This is particularly the case amongst those diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  These patients may have tried to stop smoking many times in the past, including with established smoking cessation aids, but failed.  Electronic cigarettes, while not currently licensed as medicines, may provide a more attractive alternative to these patients and hep with stopping smoking during treatment.  This study will explore how acceptable, feasible and useful they are for lung cancer patients.
Dublin
  • Project Ref: 2015/01/GRAY
    Principal Investigator: Dr Steven Gray
    Institution: St James Hospital. Dublin
    Status: Ongoing
     
    Title: circRNAs: novel biomarkers for early detection of non-small cell lung cancer 
     
    Summary
    Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer globally.  A significant constant challenge in the clinical setting is early detaction of lung cancer.  Our DNA generates messages in the form of RNA to create, maintain and regulate our cells, and altered levels of particular RNAs occur in lung cancer.  This study hopes to enhance early detection of lung cancer through studying a novel type of RNA called circular RNA (circRNA).  circRNAs that change in the cancers of patients can potentially be detected in blood and may allow us to identify and manage patients earlier giveing them a better chance for long-term survival.
     

 

 

 

 

 

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