Seed funded teams
In March 2020, the 7 successful teams were awarded seed funding grants of up to 30k (approx. 26 lakhs).
The teams will have 8 months to prepare and submit an application for a Programme Award grant of up to £1.5million (approx. Rs 13.1 crores) over 4 years.
- will be tackling 5 of our 7 research challenges
- are from a range of institutions across India & the UK
- will address several different cancer types
- are formed of new and existing collaborations
- You can read more about each of our teams below.
You can read more about each of our teams below.
South Asian Breast Cancer Risk Prediction, Genetic testing and Health Management (SURAKSHA)
Challenge 1: Prevention
Identify and quantify cancer risk factors to better understand regional variations in incidence, enabling new approaches to cancer prevention
Meet the team
Lead applicants: Usha Menon (top left), University College London, SVS Deo (top right), All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranjit Manchanda (bottom left), Queen Mary University of London and Nitya Wadhwa (bottom right), Translational Health Science & Technology Institute
The team will build on complementary strengths in breast cancer research in India and the UK and draw on expertise in genetic sequencing/bioinformatics. They will also collaborate with individuals with knowledge of developing tools for healthcare professionals, clinical implementation of risk management and patient health behaviour.
The team is a newly formed collaboration with a broad range of skills and expertise. Various individuals have worked together previously on collaborative projects, but this will be the first time that the four lead applicants will be working together on a research grant.
The team is seeking collaborations with gynaecologists and gynaecological cancer team at the participating hospitals so that we can build robust ovarian cancer risk-management pathways. If you have the relevant expertise and are interested in working on this project please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass the enquiry along to the lead applicants.
Breast-cancer is the commonest female malignancy in India and UK with 150,000 and 54,541 new cases respectively in 2016. Significant differences exist in BC-incidence rates between India and UK and among Indian states, probably due to variations in the prevalence of known and novel, and undiscovered risk-factors. There is limited data on the associations between RFs and BC in South-Asian populations. Validated breast cancer risk-prediction models (e.g. BOADICEA/CANRISK developed for women of European ancestry) along with unselected genetic-testing of breast cancer patients can improve morbidity and mortality through well-established early detection/prevention interventions.
The goal is to improve identification of Indian women at increased breast cancer-risk who can benefit from affordable and effective early detection/prevention interventions. We will:
- Validate and identify key breast cancer risk factors and customise ‘the ‘BOADICEA-V.5’ BC-risk prediction-algorithm
- Adapt “CANRISK” interface-tool to facilitate Indian user-friendly data collection/risk-assessment and co-production of India-specific risk-communication tools
- Assess the acceptability/satisfaction/psychological-wellbeing/uptake of screening and prevention options of unselected genetic testing/mainstreaming of breast cancer patients and cascade testing of relatives of women with clinically actionable mutations
- Evaluate cost-effectiveness and identify affordable cost-thresholds/solutions for India
We will undertake a multi-centre female invasive breast cancer case (1800)-control (1800) study across India. Following genetic counselling/informed consent, data on putative breast cancer risk factors, blood samples for genetic testing (high/moderate penetrance breast cancer genes and single-nucleotide-polymorphisms) and bio-banking will be collected. Data will be used to estimate and validate effect-size of breast cancer risk-factors and customise ‘BOADICEA-V.5’ for South-Asian women.
Genetic counsellors will return positive results of clinically actionable pathogenic-mutations (BRCA1/BRCA2/RAD51C/RAD51D/PALB2) in-person and offer cascade testing to first/second-degree relatives. Mutation carriers will be referred to relevant clinical teams for appropriate breast/ovarian cancer risk-management. The research will incorporate extensive stakeholder and patient-public engagement for aim-2. Validated and customised questionnaires (baseline/7-days/9-months) will be used to evaluate impact of mainstreaming and unselected genetic-testing (aim-3). Cost-effectiveness analyses will be undertaken.
This research will enable India and other South-Asian populations to use contemporaneous cutting-edge risk-stratified approaches to improve breast cancer control. Data sharing with national and international consortia will facilitate discovery of novel breast cancer risk factors.
An affordable point-of-care molecular cytology platform for oral cancer diagnosis
Challenge 2: Early Detection
Devise affordable screening tools to improve early detection of cancer
Meet the team
Lead applicants: Moni Kuriakose (left), Cochin Cancer Research Centre and Satheesh Prabhu (right), Oxford University NHS Foundation Trusts
The project will establish a core consortium of physicians and scientists with complementary expertise in India and the UK, alongside infrastructure for carrying out multi-centric translational research. The collaboration between the Indian and the UK lead applicant is a newly formed one. However, within the Indian institutions, the lead applicant, Dr Kuriakose, and the co-investigators Dr Suresh, Dr Pandya and Dr Pillai are long standing collaborators.
If you are interested in this project and feel you could add value to the team, please contact us at: email@example.com and we can pass the enquiry along to the lead applicants.
Early detection of oral cancer is essential to down-stage the disease and improve treatment outcome. Currently in UK and India, less than 20% oral cancers are diagnosed at early stage. Non-specific clinical features and lack of compliance to biopsy are recognized as leading causes of delayed diagnosis. A minimally-invasive, affordable, pathology-based, point-of-care (PoC) diagnostic for oral cancer is an unmet need. Brush biopsy with conventional cytology is ineffective due to lack of objective criteria and high inter-observer variations. We have previously demonstrated the feasibility of an automated tele-cytology platform and in parallel, validated a multiplexed molecular-cytology assay for oral cancer. Herein, we propose an affordable, minimally-invasive, molecular-cytology based PoC diagnostic for oral cancer by integrating the molecular cytology/deep-learning platform with an in-house tele-cytology prototype (AMURA: Advanced Molecular-diagnostic Unit for Real-time Analysis-of-cells).
- Aim 1: Develop AMURA-based molecular cytology system
- Upgrading of AMURA for automated acquisition of fluorescent images
- Optimisation of multiplex cytology/AMURA integration
- Aim 2: Establish a robust cytology score for diagnosis of high-risk oral lesions based on a deep-learning algorithm
- Evaluation of efficacy of AMURA in delineating high-risk pre-cancer/cancer using manual image analysis; development of the image analysis algorithm
- Integration of the deep-learning algorithm with AMURA/establishment of the cytology score
- Aim 3: Field testing of upgraded AMURA-Molecular cytology detection system with deep-learning
In the first objective, AMURA will be upgraded and marker (SNA-1/CD44/Parpi) profiling in brush biopsy samples of dysplastic/neoplastic/benign lesions carried out. As a next step, image analysis algorithm will be developed and integrated with the platform. In the final objective, a multi-centric field study will be adopted to evaluate its accuracy/robustness.
The platform developed will be a PoC assay amenable to commercialisation for improving cytology-based diagnosis in oral cancer and other tumours (cervical/breast/thyroid).