NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre
Our Research: Advanced Radiotherapy

Targeting hypoxia

A lack of oxygen (hypoxia) can make radiotherapy useless in the battle against cancer. How are we optimising treatment for patients with tumour hypoxia?

We developed and validated a gene signature, which characterises hypoxia status in head and neck cancer.  Our research shows that cancer specific gene signatures are needed to identify hypoxic tumours. These signatures can then be used as biomarkers in personalised healthcare approaches that will improve survival. So far we have a phase III trial in head and neck cancer patients that is testing whether our signature can be used to select patients for treatment that targets hypoxia.

The next step is to establish early phase biomarker driven trials, in collaboration with our Informatics and Data SciencesBiomarker Platforms and Rapid Translational Incubator colleagues, and established collaborations with pharmaceutical companies.

We are:

  • Establishing gene signature biomarkers for bladder, prostate and lung cancer, and sarcoma (rare cancers that develop in the muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and the fatty and fibrous tissues).  An important aspect of our work will be to optimise the biomarkers/tests so that they can be used in the clinic.
  • Working with researchers at The University of Manchester to undertake basic (laboratory based) research to increase our understanding of how hypoxia impacts on cell adhesion/invasion and how hypoxia could be targeted therapeutically.

Progress to date

Future work

  • Complete work generating a gene signature for lung cancer.
  • Complete work comparing different platforms for using the signatures in clinical trials.
  • Design a biomarker driven trial using a signature.
  • Begin work undertaking basic research to increase understanding of how hypoxia impacts on cell adhesion/invasion.
  • Working with patient groups relating to our Musculoskeletal and Hearing Health research to understand particular benefits of PBT for them.