Crick group leader, Charlie Swanton, has been recognised by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer with a distinguished award, recognising his lifetime achievements in scientific contributions to lung cancer research.
Based at the Crick, where he heads up the Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability Lab, Charlie is the principal investigator of Cancer Research UK’s TRACERx [TRAcking Cancer Evolution through therapy (Rx)] clinical study that aims to decode the evolution of non-small cell lung cancer and define how cell differences within a tumour impact cancer immunity.
His team’s work has led to the discovery of multiple factors that accelerate cancer evolution, providing insights into cancer drug resistance and treatment failure. Last year, they reported that unstable chromosomes within lung tumours increase the risk of cancer returning after surgery, and were able to use this new knowledge to determine the risk of relapse up to a year before the cancer returns.
Building on these findings, Charlie’s team will be launching a phase II clinical trial in early 2019 to determine whether lung cancer DNA in patients’ blood can predict the risk of relapse after surgery.
Charlie says: “The last decade has seen major changes in our understanding of lung cancer. Thanks to the extraordinary work of the TRACERx team we have a much clearer picture of the complexity of lung cancer evolution and its vulnerabilities which we hope to exploit for patient benefit starting next year. I am delighted to accept this prize as a testament to their commitment and hard work.”