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Cancer Diagnostics and Therapy

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and it was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer, and the incidence of neoplastic diseases is predicted to rise sharply in the next decades. The development of new techniques for early detection of cancer and the emergence of personalized cancer treatments are revolutionizing this field, while posing ethical and economical challenges. Our SIG at the Open University undertakes a comprehensive investigation of cancer diagnostics, from its genomic foundations to its sociological implications.

Current research: covers a wide range of cancer diagnostics and therapy topics, including: breast and prostate cancer genetics; identification of new prognostic algorithms; new methods for cancer screening; development of personalized therapies to prevent metastatic spreading; use of photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment.

Francesco Crea: prostate cancer genetics (featured in The Conversation )

Sushila Rigas: breast cancer genetics (featured in BBC Tomorrow’s World, see article here)
Claire Turner: use of VOC for cancer diagnosis
Jon Golding: radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy
Nacho Romero: cancer metastasis
Martin Bootman: mechanisms of calcium-dependent cancer
Geraint (Taff) Morgan: use of mass spectrometry for cancer detection and prevention
Yao Xu: DNA chemistry for Cancer Studies
Jan Draper: exploring the experiences of patients diagnosed with terminal cancer.

If you are interested in being a part of the Cancer Diagnostics Special Interest Group please email where further details will be provided

Upcoming activities

NEPC 2019



Venue: The Open University, Milton Keynes (MK7 6AA)

Date: 25/06/2019

Scientific Committee: Prof. YZ Wang, University of British Columbia; Prof. Hardev Pandha, University of Surrey; Dr Francesco Crea, The Open University; Dr Rebecca Mather, The Open University. 


9:00-10:00 Registration (tea, coffee, biscuits)


Session Chair: Dr Sushila Rigas, The Open University.

10-10.15 Welcome

Dr Martin Bootman, Director of Research LHCS, The Open University

10.15-11:00 Clinical characterization of treatment-emergent NEPC

Prof Hardev Pandha, Director of Surrey Cancer Centre

11:00-11:30 Therapeutic opportunities for neuroendocrine prostate cancer
Dr Pasquale Rescigno, Institute of Cancer Research, London

11.30-12.30 Panel discussion: treatment-emergent NEPC: a new challenge for clinicians and researchers

Dr Mark Eccleston, Volition; Dr Rebecca Mather, Open University. 

12.30-2.00 Lunch and poster session 


Session Chair: Dr Mario Colombo, Italian National Cancer Institute

2.00-2.45 The nature of neuroendocrine trans-differentiation: lessons learned from patient-derived xenografts.
Prof YZ Wang, BC Cancer Agency, Canada.

2.45-3.15 The long non-coding RNA landscape of neuroendocrine prostate cancer.  

Dr Francesco Crea, The Open University.

3.15-3.45 The role of tumour microenvironment in neuroendocrine prostate cancer.
Dr Elena Jachetti, Italian National Cancer Institute.

4.00-4.30 Feedback opportunity

4.30-6:00 Networking (tea, coffee, biscuits)


Early registration is open. Please send an email to

In the email write:

  • NAME
  • Registration fee:  £10 (free for a limited number of Medical School students and PhD students). Registration instructions and directions will be provided via email.

Previous activities:

1) Dr. Luca Quagliata (Principal Investigator, University of Basel): “Precision Medicine in Oncology”.

The Cancer Diagnostics and Therapy SIG have recently hosted a lecture delivered by Dr Luca Quagliata, Principal Investigator at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Dr Quagliata is responsible for the University’s cancer biobank, which is one of the most accurate and comprehensive biobanks in Europe. He is also an expert in the discovery and clinical application of biomarkers for liver diseases. Dr Quagliata’s group deals with the ethical and data management issues arising from the collection of large amounts of clinical samples and personal data. In his lecture, Dr. Qugliata will cover all these aspects, and hopefully attract the attention of a diverse range of academics. After the talk, Dr Quagliata will be available to meet OU researchers interested in collaborating with his team.

  • Dr Quagliata is an ongoing collaborator of Dr Francesco Crea and Professor Nacho Romero. They have recently received a Cancer Research UK grant to study the molecular basis of aggressive prostate cancer.

2) Prof. Yuzhuo Wang (Professor of Urology, University of British Columbia): “Translational Cancer Research: Challenges and Opportunities”.

Over the past 50 years, despite the enormous commitment of resources to research on cancer, and the dedication of thousands of researchers focused on this problem, deaths from cancer have changed relatively little. Clearly the obstacles are substantial. This presentation enabled us to share a few lessons learned from the laboratory and also discuss some of the promising hypotheses and new research approaches that should or will be explored.

Molecular and Bioinformatics Oncology (MBO) journal club
The MBO journal club provides students with the opportunity to give a presentation and develop key skills in evaluating and assessing scientific journals in a friendly and supportive environment. Members of the club can nominate themselves to present a research paper of their choice that’s fits with the subject area. Each month the paper will be sent out to the group to bring along to the meeting. After a brief introduction of the paper by the speaker, the group will have a chance to discuss the paper, facilitated by supervisors and academics. We hope that the discussion will also stimulate research ideas and new networks.

The discussions are quite specialised, but anyone is welcome to join the mailing list to see if at any time we discuss a subject of their interest. If anyone is interested in presenting, they are also welcome to join us.

The club meet once a month and is chaired by Dr Francesco Crea and Dr Sushila Rigas, and is organised by Stephen Chandler. If you would like to join the club, please email who will put you on the mailing list.

British Society of Gerontology initiative Ageing Bites

Back in the Spring and with support and assistance from colleagues, the following video was created - This YouTube channel is part of the British Society of Gerontology initiative Ageing Bites and links to a paper that Dr Hannah R. Marston published in March...

Gaming will help future centenarians

Gamer Dr Hannah R. Marston presented her research at the billion-dollar tech company Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment. The health and wellbeing priority research area fellow was invited by the game designer, in Sweden, to talk about her work ‘From Arcade to World Wide Web – how intergenerational gaming can help you pick up an extra life’. It focuses on levels of immersion, or flow,...

Aging Well series of Public Talks

Jitka Vseteckova is delighted to announce a series of public talks with the title ‘Ageing Well’, which will be offered at the Open University in Milton Keynes. Many changes can be brought about by ageing. Most of the changes are physiological processes, they come naturally, and produce physical and mental deterioration. However, timely interventions such as nutrition, hydration,...

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