Radiotherapy plays a vital role in the treatment of cancer and is used in around 40% of patients who are cured of their disease. Our radiotherapy related research covers a diverse range of focus areas, including sensitivity and toxicity biomarkers, image-guided therapy and combined modality approaches that encompass both targeted agents and immunotherapy. Ultimately, we are looking to personalise radiotherapy through the integration of patient-specific and tumour-specific information, increasingly in real-time.
The Christie is home to the largest radiotherapy facility in Europe, treating 8,500 patients each year, and we have a proven track record in pioneering advanced techniques. Over the last fifteen years we have supported major developments in image-guided radiotherapy, and we are now part of a worldwide research consortium with a mission to develop an integrated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guided system. The MR Linac will greatly enhance the real-time visualisation and tracking of cancer targets during the delivery of therapeutic radiation, and our world-leading expertise in this area will drive forward progress.
Our personalised medicine focus recognises the potential for the personalisation of radiotherapy - including changes in field, dose and fractionation and the use of chemotherapy – through the integration of tumour, patient and treatment information. We are developing a theragnostics programme, which will develop and validate predictive models for survival, radiation response and toxicity of such a high accuracy that they can be used in clinical practice. By implementing such an approach, we can optimise radiotherapy delivery for individual patients and improve outcomes over conventional standardised treatments. We have a potential goldmine of information stored in databases and information systems, with new data being generated every day in clinics at The Christie. Data mining can assess the benefit of new interventions and technologies in all patients, notably those patients generally excluded from clinical trials.
In 2010 we were selected, alongside University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to host one of the UK’s first high-energy proton therapy centres. To realise the full potential in proton therapy, significant clinical, radiobiological and technical research is required. Within the clinical facility, The Christie is building a fourth gantry room, dedicated to research, with a direct proton beam feed from the accelerator to facilitate studies focused on improving proton beam therapy techniques and clinical indications. We have strong relationships with the Manchester Accelerator Group at the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology and with the Ion Beam Centre in Surrey and the National Physical Laboratory. This is an area of significant potential and our goal is to become an internationally recognised centre for proton therapy research.