Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council have jointly launched a £5-million stratified medicine programme aiming to better tailor bowel cancer treatment to individual patients in the hope of improving outcomes. 

The S-CORT (Stratification in COloRecTal cancer) Consortium* will use genome-based technology to look at the biology of bowel cancer in samples from over 2,000 patients, underpinned by £2.5 million from each the MRC and CR UK.

The research seeks to identify and use new ways of predicting response to treatment based on the genetic make-up of a patient’s tumour, providing clearer insights into who should receive the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin and what type of radiotherapy is offered, for example. It could also help surgeons to remove as little of the bowel as possible, CR UK noted.

“This precision medicine approach can maximise the effectiveness of both existing and brand new treatments while helping to minimise side effects, to improve survival and quality of life for our patients,” said Professor Mark Lawler, Chair of Translational Cancer Genomics, Queen’s University Belfast. “Additionally, our health economic analysis will allow us to measure the benefit we can deliver for the NHS and the UK economy,” he said.

*The consortium is made up of the following partners: University of Oxford; Queen’s University Belfast; University of Birmingham; University of Leeds; Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; MRC  Clinical Trials Unit; Kings College London; University of Aberdeen; University College London; Almac; Astra Zeneca; GlaxoSmithKline; Beating Bowel Cancer; Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumers Forum; European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer; Cardiff University; Ku Leuven; European Alliance for Personalised Medicine; The University of Manchester; and the European CanCer Organisation.