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News from Lungs for Living

News from Lungs for Living

UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation continues to support cutting-edge lung cancer research in the Lungs for Living Research Centre, led by Professor Sam Janes.  By investigating early lung cancer, the Lungs for Living team aims to understand how lung cancer begins and how it progresses, with the goal of developing novel therapies for this deadly disease.

In 2017, the Lungs for Living Research team published their research in 14 scientific papers and have presented their work at several international conferences.  Professor Janes has received funding to support his research, including significant grants from the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, GRAIL and the British Lung Foundation.

Importantly, Professor Janes also received funding from Cancer Research UK to begin the Photodynamic thErapy for the pRevention of Lung cancer Trial (PEARL Trial) to investigate whether Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) could prevent or reduce progression from pre-invasive to invasive lung cancer.  It is hoped that this therapy could change the landscape of early lung cancer treatment.

Before the PEARL Trial can begin, the Lungs for Living team needs to secure funding for a Clinical Research Fellow to run the trial.  This is currently one of UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation's primary fundraising objectives.

In 2017, the Lung Screen Uptake Trial (LSUT) completed recruitment.  The study is a randomised controlled trial that tests the effect of two different types of invitations on uptake to a lung cancer screening demonstration pilot.  1,005 patients were recruited from a total of 1,997 invited between November 2015 and July 2017.  780 patients underwent a low-dose lung cancer screening CT scan and 1-year follow-up data collection is now underway.

Principle Investigator, Dr Celine Denais, is continuing to work on her ground breaking study into the genetic and chemical processes of human pre-cancerous cells in order to ascertain why and how cancer develops. To aid this examination process, Dr Denais's team have developed (and are constantly refining) an innovative three-dimensional (3D) microfluidic device known as 'lung on a chip'.  They use this chip to replicate the physical, bio-chemical, and cellular cues of a human lung.  By examining how an in-vitro model of early lung cancer develops, the team will be able to translate their findings to human models of early lung cancer. Their ultimate aim is to identify a compound and thus a treatment, ready for clinical trial that can alter the way that pre-cancerous cells behave at the earliest stage.  In addition, they will investigate the possibility of re-purposing existing drugs (rather than developing new ones) which would rapidly increase the speed with which treatment could be developed and made publicly available.

2017 has seen an expansion of the Lungs for Living Research team, with the recruitment of several new group members, including clinical and post-doctoral fellows.  One of the new members of the Lungs for Living team is Adam Pennycuick who secured a prestigious Wellcome Trust clinical fellowship.  Adam will be using a systems biology approach to better understand the mechanisms of progression from pre-invasive to invasive lung cancer.  Doraid Alrifai joined the Lungs for Living research team to begin a Cancer Research UK funded PhD to investigate the role of different therapeutic agents in malignant mesothelioma and how this correlates with selected predictive biomarkers.  The Lungs for Living team are also joined by Alice Davies who is helping to deliver Professor Janes's first in-man clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of using genetically modified bone marrow derived stem cells to treat late-stage lung cancer.  The cutting-edge research taking place in the Lungs for Living Research Centre will hopefully lead to developments in our understanding of the processes that drive lung cancer progression and those that could be used to treat it.