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Cancer

In 2012 the Cambridge Cancer Centre was awarded Comprehensive Cancer Centre status by the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI), a network of organisations aiming to improve the quality of cancer care and translational research across Europe. The Centre helps unite researchers across several Schools and other local biomedical research institutes. The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is now part of the University and helps further strengthen our important links with Physical Sciences, including a cross-School PhD programme. There have also been recent major advances in imaging involving collaborations across the UK.  Some recent research in this theme carried out by scientists in our School is highlighted below; this includes work to help treat animal as well as human cancers. There are important links with work in other themes, notably developmental and stem cell biology, molecular cell biology, chemical and structural biology and infection and immunity, in which key advances of relevance are made.

Novel epigenetic changes in cancers that are amenable to small molecule drug therapy have been identified as have genes involved in MALT lymphoma. Genetic factors predisposing dogs to anal sac carcinoma have been found while work in comparative oncology continues, with the development of an miRNA-based sarcoma classification and a topical photodynamic treatment for feline squamous cell carcinoma. Important work on canine and marsupial transmissible tumours has recently found a new base in the the School. Cancer-related imaging has been strengthened with novel 13C hyperpolarised MRI imaging now brought to the clinic in Cambridge.

Recent work has shown how hypoxia in tumour cells and associated stromal fibroblasts is a critical force in driving tumour angiogenesis, inflammation and metastasis, and how interplay between isoforms of hypoxia-inducible factor dictates the onset and spread of metastasis in breast cancers. Novel ways have been used to toggle Myc on and off in lung, pancreas and mammary cancer models and this work validates Myc as an effective therapeutic target for most, perhaps all, cancers.