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Early Detection Research Committee

Early detection research seeks to enable the detection of cancer, or pre-cancerous states, at the earliest possible time point at which an intervention might be made.

The Early Detection Research Committee is responsible for the oversight, development, review, funding and management of a portfolio of research Programmes and Projects which include discovery and validation of signatures of early cancer, and development of the technologies to enable this. These signatures may detect and also underpin prognosis/stratification/prediction of response to therapy and/or prevention.

Research can involve discovery, pre-clinical and/or clinical/translational science which is mindful of the clinical and population context. The Committee will meet twice per year.

Funding schemes

Early Detection Project Awards support and encourage specific research projects that aim to have a significant impact on how and when cancer is detected.

Deadline: 21 June 2018

Early Detection Programme Awards support and encourage established researchers to perform large, integrated and renewable research programmes which have the potential to transform early cancer detection.

Outline Deadline: 25 September 2018

CRUK-OHSU Spark Awards provides seed funding for research in collaboration with Oregon Health and Sciences University scientists to support development of new partnerships and novel lines of enquiry

Deadline: tbc

CRUK-OHSU Project Awards funds new and existing collaborations in early detection between researchers in the UK and at Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Deadline: tbc

Early Detection Innovation Sandpit and Award will catalyse new multidisciplinary collaborations to drive forward earlier detection of cancer, in partnership with EPSRC and STFC.

Deadline 24 May

Research areas

Biological research underpinning early detection and biomarker discovery and validation, including but not limited to:

  • Basic cellular and molecular science around the earliest transformational events pushing a cell from normal to at-risk to dysregulated to cancerous, thereby suggesting potential early detection markers to be explored
  • ‘Omics for early detection: high throughput, high dimensional data research in markers for early detection, including proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics, genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics
  • Basic biology and detection of circulating cellular and nucleic acid markers for early detection of cancer or pre-disease, e.g. ctDNA, CTCs, exosomes, RNAs
  • Studies may include the use of model systems, such as model organisms, cell lines, organoids and xenografts, or primary human samples

Human-based EDx discovery research including but not limited to:

        •  Biomarker discovery and validation in early stage disease (and pre-cancerous state) patients
        •  Biomarker discovery and validation in healthy volunteers
        •  Exploitation of existing cohorts and biobanks for discovery research and technology development in an early detection context

Stratification of populations by risk to identify and exploit high-risk groups as populations for early detection research, and as appropriate clinical contexts for development of novel detection technologies

        •  Use of the tools, methods and insights of population science, epidemiology and risk assessment through collaborative research to inform the above.

Data and computation-driven approaches to early detection, including but not limited to:

  • Biomedical and health informatics: computational high dimensional data analytics for interpretation of potential early detection marker profiles; analysis and integration of (multimodal) data arising from e.g. genomics, proteomics, imaging, e-health records, patient/public-derived data (personal activity monitors etc.)
  • Computational and systems biology: computational and mathematical modelling of complex networks and systems to understand normal, pre-cancer and early cancer biology. Modelling of the interaction within and between complex biological systems to facilitate early detection and prediction of implications of markers (e.g. distinguishing lethal from dormant disease).

Development and utilisation of preclinical early detection model systems (e.g. cellular, organoid, xenograft, animal model) to recapitulate early cancer and precancerous states, including but not limited to:

  • Creation and characterisation of new model systems
  • Use of model systems to probe and understand early events leading from normal cellular function through to cancer
  • Use of model systems to identify potential early detection markers for future clinical validation
  • Use of models systems as platforms for development of early detection technologies

Early detection technology development – exploratory and translational research, including but not limited to:

  • Imaging: progressive research into advanced imaging technologies for cancer detection. Novel modalities, novel probes, novel contrast agents etc.
  • Circulating marker detection technology: enhancement of sensitivity/specificity of detection technologies for ultra-low concentration circulating markers e.g. cells, DNA, proteins, exosomes
  • Advanced detection technologies (nanotech, photonics, synthetic markers etc.): engineering and physical science to enable novel methods of detection of very low-concentration markers

Translational and clinical early detection research: experimental work in patients and healthy volunteers around development and validation of early detection approaches and technologies.

Click here for find out more at the Cancer Research UK website.

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