New project to help tailor cancer treatments for individual patients

A new project led by Dr Julian Barwell (pictured) from the Department of Genetics hopes to help move the treatment of human disease from a 'one size fits all' approach to one of tailoring treatment to individual patients.

The project, announced by Leicester's Hospitals, will involve testing all of the genes in patients with one of eight types of cancer, starting with renal cancer patients in Leicester.

The team are researching whether we can move away from standard treatment for all patients to a much more focussed approach to care which will be specific for each patient.

Dr Julian Barwell, Honorary Professor in Genetic Medicine and Consultant at Leicester's Hospitals, said: "Finding specific weaknesses in an individual's tumour that can be exploited without harming the rest of the body can be incredibly challenging. Understanding how the tumour has developed and is different from other unaffected tissues provides opportunities for more targeted and effective treatments."

This builds on the work done for cancer patients as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project, an ambitious initiative which aims to sequence 100,000 complete sets of DNA from around 70,000 NHS patients.

By recruiting newly diagnosed cancer patients, scientists will be able to build more detailed understanding of how changes in their DNA affects their susceptibility to disease and response to treatment. This has the potential to benefit patients in the UK and could also help in the global fight against cancer.