Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research, London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust hospital have revealed plans to create next-generation, anti-evolution therapies that will be able to fight against cancer’s lethal ability to adapt and evade treatment.

The experts from both organisations have launched a roadmap for overcoming cancer evolution, thereby ensuring how powerful ‘big data’ analysis can identify effective new anti-evolution treatments.

ICR London chief executive Paul Workman said: “Cancer evolution is the single biggest challenge we face in creating better treatments for patients.

“We have seen some great advances against cancer, but so often we find that the disease evolves, becoming ever more complex and genetically diverse, and finds ways to resist the effects of therapy.

“With such a major, enduring, complex challenge, we need a concerted effort to shift our approach to cancer research, and to focus pretty much everything we do on anticipating, outpacing and overcoming cancer evolution.

“Our new joint research strategy fires the starting gun on a race against cancer evolution, as we aim to predict the disease’s behaviour in order to stay one step ahead.”

"Cancer evolution is the single biggest challenge we face in creating better treatments for patients."

As animals and plants adapt to changes in the environment, cancer is also capable of evolving and adapting to the treatment.

The Royal Marsden and ICR clinical research director David Cunningham said: “By developing innovative treatments, diagnostics and strategies for prevention, we can deliver better outcomes and improved quality of life for patients at the Royal Marsden, across the UK and around the world.”

The scope of the new study includes predicting the path of cancer evolution from a single tumour sample to allow doctors to counter-attack its next move, developing new cancer drugs to block the cancer evolution process and directing a patient’s immune systems to evolve according to the changes in the cancer.

It also includes blocking off cancer’s escape routes, as well as tracking the movement of tumours in the body of a patient.

Image: ICR clinician scientist and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust consultant clinical oncologist Dr Irene Chong. Photo: courtesy of ICR.