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Oct 2019 - Oct 2022

Using genetics to improve care for bowel cancer patients


Chris Wills



Funding Amount



Professor Jeremy Cheadle

Cancer Type


Funding Type




Research Type

Early Detection, Diagnosis and Prognosis

Worldwide, over a million people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. Only clinical stage is used as a crude guide (or biomarker) to help determine how long a patient will survive and to help inform their treatment options. There is a clear need for more accurate measures of survival. Our group is investigating whether a patient’s genetic code (in their blood and cancer) can be used as such a measure. To-date, we have carried out a limited analysis of genetic changes within the cancers themselves, and shown that some of these can have a considerable effect on survival. Here, we plan to extend these studies to gain a comprehensive insight into the tumours genetic profile and its influence on survival.

We have recently shown that a genetic change in patient’s blood can also influence survival. We have now carried out a full screen of the genome and identified many further genetic biomarkers. We plan to model these germline factors together with the tumours genetic profile to gain a clear insights into their clinical usefulness. Genetic biomarkers promise to inform patient survival and treatment options for improved quantity and quality of life. They may also inform the development of better therapies.

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