Professor Caroline Dive and her team in the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute are working side by side with the Christie Hospital, developing ‘liquid biopsies’ to hunt cancer cells that have broken free from tumours and are circulating in the bloodstream.
We are moving towards an era of personalised medicine, where doctors use information about the molecular makeup of an individual patient’s cancer to tailor their treatment. Understanding a patient’s cancer usually involves taking a sample through surgery, known as a biopsy, but this doesn’t always paint a full picture, especially if the disease has spread through the body. And taking repeated biopsies can be difficult and painful for patients.
Professor Dive is focusing on lung cancer, the world’s biggest cancer killer. Developing simple blood tests to capture cancer cells could help researchers understand how lung cancer changes as it grows and spreads, and how it can become resistant to treatment. In turn, this will open up opportunities to develop new therapies to treat this deadly disease more effectively.