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ICT research team to develop new breast cancer chemotherapy

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (ICT) at the University of Bradford have received a £280,000 grant to develop a new type of chemotherapy for breast cancer patients.

The ICT team headed by Dr Robert Falconer and Dr Klaus Pors will work on two separate projects in a bid to develop treatment which only kills cancer cells, puts a stop to some debilitating side effects and gives patients a better quality of life. Both scientists will develop the chemotherapy treatment using natural compounds called duocarmycins. At the moment, the undiluted compounds are too strong to use on the human body because they kill both healthy and cancerous cells, however, the teams work will hopefully see them develop something which only stops tumours.

Chemotherapy grant full article

Rob Falconer and Klaus Pors

Dr. Klaus Pors and Dr. Robert Falconer

Aspirin and omega-3 reduce pre-cancerous bowel polyps

The DMPK team at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford had their first publication in The Lancet in November, reporting results from the seAFOod Polyp Prevention Trial. This follows years of fruitful collaboration between the team and Prof. Mark Hull, at the University of Leeds. Prof. Hull led the £1.5M MRC/EME funded trial investigating the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and aspirin on the prevention of colorectal adenomas which involved a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Universities of Leeds, Nottingham, Bradford and Newcastle, as well as others.

The placebo controlled, randomised and blinded trial found that, although intervention with aspirin and/or EPA did not reduce the probability of high-risk patients developing bowel polyps, the number polyps was reduced.

The DMPK team in Bradford of Amanda Race, Jade Spencer, Elizabeth Macken and Paul Loadman led the analytical studies and were responsible for the supervision of the extensive biobank within the trial. The partnership with Prof Hull started more than 10years ago and built up into a substantial collaboration resulting in 8 high quality publications since 2013 alone.

As well as several pre-clinical research projects, the DMPK team is collaborating on a second Prof. Hull led clinical trial.  EMT2 is a Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR) funded (£1.5M) major Phase III trial, investigating the effects of EPA on liver metastases originating from bowel cancers.  450 patients will be recruited to the placebo-controlled, blinded trial, with the DMPK/CTPL team at the ICT being responsible for sample analysis and biobanking.   

Eicosapentaenoic acid and aspirin, alone and in combination, for the prevention of colorectal adenomas (seAFOod Polyp Prevention trial): a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2x2 factorial trial. Lancet 2018 DOI. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31775-6



New research centre launched in ICT to help fight cancer

An exciting new Doctoral Training Centre at the ICT was launched in October 2018. A major investment of £2m by Incanthera Ltd. will enable a series of new PhD studentships to be created over the next 10 years in the field of anticancer prodrug development, building on recent ICT success in this area. This new funding is made possible following major investment into Incanthera to develop ICT2588, invented at the ICT.

The Centre will enable the training of the next generation of high-calibre cancer scientists, while simultaneously enhancing the support and training of existing PhD students at the ICT. The core theme of new centre will be the development of anticancer prodrugs, which are compounds that remain inactive in the body until they reach their target site, thereby significantly reducing toxicity. This major deal will provide a pipeline of new intellectual property opportunities for Incanthera in the future. Opportunities for students joining the Centre include a first-class training environment in an Institute with an international reputation for anticancer prodrug development, dedicated research support, a generous research consumables budget, and opportunities to attend a national and international conference.

It is expected that the first advertisements for new student applications will appear in early 2019.  For more information contact ICT administrator Jennie Smith at

Institute of Cancer Therapeutics wins funding from Bone Cancer Research Trust

Dr Robert Falconer, from the ICT, can carry out his four-year project after the Bone Cancer Research Trust raised £100,000 to fund it.

He will be trying to reduce the severe side effects of Methotrexate, a chemotherapy agent used in treating osteosarcoma - or bone cancer.

Current side effects include low blood counts, hair loss, mouth sores and ulcers, nausea and diarrhoea.

Rob Falconer research full article

Rob Falconer ICT

Anti-psychotic drug could treat aggressive breast cancer

A commonly-used anti-psychotic drug could also be effective against triple negative breast cancer, the form of the disease that is most difficult to treat, new research has found.

The study, led by Prof Mohamed El-Tanani at the ICT also showed that the drug, Pimozide, has the potential to treat the most common type of lung cancer.

Anti-psychotic drugs are known to have anti-cancer properties, with some, albeit inconclusive, studies showing a reduced incidence of cancer amongst people with schizophrenia. The new research, published in Oncotarget, is the first to identify how one of these drugs acts against triple negative breast cancer, with the potential to be the first targeted treatment for the disease.

More about the anti-psychotic drug study

Prof El-tanani