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Working to improve standard treatment for non-small cell lung cancer

  • Researcher: Professor Marc Vooijs
  • Institution: Universiteit Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Award Amount: £210,462 for 3 years from September 2013
  • Cancer Type: Lung Cancer
Working to improve standard treatment for non-small cell lung cancer
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer related death in the world. The majority of lung cancers (80%) are non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Standard care treatment for NSCLC is chemotherapy and radiotherapy combined but sadly the 5 year survival is only 5-15%. The reason treatment is so unsuccessful is due to the complex biology of the lung cancers and the environment surrounding the tumour. Another reason they are so hard to treat is due to the presence of cancer stem cells. These cells often do not die when the rest of the tumours cells do and, like a criminal on the run from the police, they are then able to escape and travel around the body where they can form secondary tumours, known as metastases. Professor Vooijs has found that a communication pathway inside cells, called the NOTCH pathway, is often deregulated and over-active in NSCLC. This deregulation of NOTCH is associated with resistance to treatment and decreased survival for patients. Conversely, switching off NOTCH stops tumour growth and so finding a way to do this could be a potential new way to treat NSCLC patients, either alone or along with standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This is the focus of Professor Vooijs' Worldwide Cancer Research grant and he will also be looking for a way to identify which patients could respond well to this type of treatment and which would not benefit as much.
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