2018 Grants

Dr Andy Tee, Cardiff University – PhD Studentship 

Project Title: Targeting neuro-inflammation in mTORC1-driven brain tumours

Amount: £96,865

Duration: 36 months

This projects examines the role that inflammation plays in promoting the growth of brain tumours growth.  New therapies that target the immune system have transformed the treatment of some difficult to treat cancers. The project will seek to discover if a new avenue of immunotherapy can be used for brain tumours, a cancer type where survival rates have remained stubbornly low.  This project also has important implications for other common conditions such as MS, dementia, stroke, where ageing and inflammation are underlying causes.


Dr Paul Shaw and Professor Trevor Dale Tee, Velindre Cancer Centre and Cardiff University – PhD Studentship

Project Title: Identification of Novel Drug-Radiation Enhancers in an Ex-Vivo Lung Cancer Model

Amount: £118,865

Duration: 36 months

This project will seek to develop and characterise laboratory based lung cancer model systems in which combinations of new emerging drugs and radiotherapy can be tested. The lung cancer models will be established from the patients very own tumours at genetic analysis following removal at surgery. This strategy represents a personalised approach to the treatment of lung cancer, instead of the one-glove fits all approach.  Lung cancer has poor survival rates and is Wales’ leading cause of cancer death. Due to the distinct lack of clinically focused research in the area, this study will help translate laboratory into meaningful treatment strategies for lung cancer.


Professor Duncan Baird, Cardiff University – PhD Studentship

Project Title: Investigating the Roles of PARP and Ligase Inhibitors in Preventing Escape from Telomere Crisis


Duration: 36 months

When normal cells undergo a major crisis in the structural rearrangement of their DNA, they usually die in order to prevent mutations and cancer from developing. Nearly all cancers and pre-malignant lesions, such as polyps, show evidence of these genetic rearrangements – meaning they have somehow learned to escape this cell death safety mechanism in order to survive. Duncan Baird and his team have studied these mechanisms in detail, and this new study will look to use a new class of anti-cancer drugs that targets cancer DNA in order to force cancer cells to die.


Dr Alan Parker and Professor Andrew Godkin, Cardiff University – PhD Studentship 

Project Title: Establishing a Potent and Highly Tumour Selective Immuno-oncolytic Virotherapy for Colorectal Cancer

Amount: £95,115

Duration: 36 months

This study will combine two different approaches to provide a novel treatment strategy for bowel cancer. Modified non-infectious viruses will be constructed in such a way they are only recognised and taken up by cancer cells and when are able to release their cargo, novel cancer immunotherapy agents. This unique drug discovery approach will help ensure that only cancer cells are destroyed and neighbouring normal cells are spared. The new project builds upon previously successful funded CRW work in the field of ovarian cancer which has now been protected by patents. If successful the scientists and clinicians leading the study hope to conduct a clinical trials within 5-10 years.


Dr Chris Staples, Bangor University – PhD Studentship

Project Title: Replication Fork Stability by the Novel DNA Repair Protein MRNIP Following Chemotherapy

Amount: £104,604

Duration: 36 months

Both Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy work by causing extensive damage to DNA within cancer cells so they no longer divide have the capacity to divide but instead choose to die.   However, cancer cells resist these treatments by increasing their capacity to repair damaged DNA. This project will investigate a newly discovered mechanism that allows cancers to efficiently undertake this repair.  It is hoped the project will lead to a better identification of patient subgroups who will respond to certain classes of the many different cancer agents available, with the overall aim improving treatment decisions and patient outcomes.


Professor Gareth Jenkins, Swansea University – Post-Doctoral Project Grant

Project Title: Integrated DNA Damage Markers in Circulating Blood Cells for Early Detection of Cancer

Amount: £204,787

Duration: 36 months

This projects represents a continuation of funding for the further development of a blood-based test for cancer at Swansea University. The test senses changes on the exterior of red blood cells. These changes are caused by the harsh environment of cancers when the blood cells pass through on their daily journey around the body.  There is a recognised urgent need to develop blood based tests that can diagnose cancer more quickly, and with greater accuracy than currently available. The test originally developed for the early detection of cancer of the oesophagus, will see it evaluated in the one stop diagnostic shops under trial at Neath Port Talbot and Cynon Taff, areas.  These ground-breaking centres receive patients referred by GPs, who have vague symptoms, but are suspected of having cancer.


Professor Jerry Cheadle, Cardiff University – Post-Doctoral Project Grant 

Project Title: Validating Prognostic Biomarkers for Colorectal Cancer and Determining Their Clinical Utility

Amount: £155,801

Duration: 36 months

Currently, there is no accurate way to determine how long bowel cancers patients will survive, or to help inform their treatment options – existing guides are crude at best. Therefore, there is a clear need for more accurate measures of survival and treatment guidance. Genetic markers promise to inform patient survival and treatment options for improved quantity and quality of life, and the development of better therapies. This study will use over 2000 different tumour and blood samples taken from clinical trials to investigate whether the patient’s genetic code in their blood and cancer can be used for such measures.


Dr Jane Wakeman, Bangor University – Post-Doctoral Project Grant – £142,826

Project Title: Assessing the utility of Brachyury as a biomarker for diagnostics and therapeutic targeting in serrated colorectal cancer

Amount: £142,826

Duration: 24 months

Early diagnosis results in greater patient-survival and therefore identifying good diagnostic markers is a key aim for improving patient-outcomes. This project will look to see if a molecule in pre-malignant polyps gives rise to the more dangerous serrated bowel cancers, which result in poor survival in these patients. It is hoped these studies will help scientists and clinicians better understand the pre-malignant condition, as less than 10% of all polyps have the potential to become cancerous.  In parallel new drugs developed against the molecules of interest may provide a novel therapeutic intervention for these aggressive lesions and the cancers that may result.


Professor Dean Harris, Swansea University – Project Grant

Project Title: Raman Spectroscopy and Colorectal Cancer: Transforming the Urgent Suspected Cancer Referral Pathway

Amount: £358,000

Duration: 36 months

This study will again build on previously successful award-winning CRW funded research by one of Wales’ leading bowel cancer surgeons.  The aim is to make it easier to diagnose bowel cancer using a simple blood test that can be undertaken at GP surgeries. The test works by shining laser light onto a blood sample and measuring how much light is scattered off the many different chemicals and molecules that are secreted by bowel cancers. By measuring the complex patterns of scattered light we can create a unique ‘fingerprint’ which is specific for bowel cancer. The study will first test the technique on 600 patients recruited by their GPs and nurses and evaluate how effective the test is at diagnosing cancer. This will serve to define the accuracy of the blood test. Provided the results are effective, a further trial with 150 patients will be conducted to see if giving the blood test to GPs results in a greater accuracy at which bowel cancers are diagnosed, and also if it is able reduce the number of suspected cancer referrals that are sent for unnecessary invasive colonoscopy.