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CTCR researcher Dr Chris Jackson has received Health Research Council funding for an Emerging Researcher First Grant over three years for a project focusing on the management of rectal cancer. Also named on the project are CTCR director Parry Guilford and CTCR oncologist John McCall.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of rectal cancer in the world, and at time of diagnoisis, a quarter of these patients have secondary spread of cancer. This project is a phase 2 study utlising blood and tumour biopsy samples to test the effectiveness of a “chemo first” approach to this group of patients.

Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) will be collected from blood and assessed as a surrogate for biopsy of the primary and metastases, it will also be used to track tumour response to therapy and to detect developing mutations that might predict resistance to chemotherapy.

By collecting multiple biopsies over time, researchers can work to identify changes in tumour gene expression that will help understanding of molecular evolution of rectal cancer, and to identify (and later target) the emerging “lethal clone”.

Read the full University of Otago media release:
Major funding for innovative health research 9 June 2014, University of Otago website

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