Improving a Head and Neck Tumour’s Sensitivity to Radiotherapy Treatment

Elise Lepicard
Elise Lepicard

Project type:
PhD Studentship

Project Leader:
Dr Simon Robinson

Elise Lepicard

Commencement date:
February 2016

Length of project:
4 years


Multiple - see below

The Institute of Cancer Research


Low oxygen levels, as often occurs within a tumour mass, can cause tumour cells to switch on a survival mechanism that results in them becoming more resistant to radiotherapy or chemotherapy. This is particularly prominent in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. New targeted agents that can influence the tumour oxygen levels for radiotherapeutic gain, or that target the resultant survival mechanisms, are in development, but it is difficult to accurately assess how well such agents perform in laboratory models in situ.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) Tumour Profiling Unit is pioneering the use of cancer ‘avatars’ for head and neck cancers. These avatars could help tailor cancer treatments to patients by matching drugs to a tumour’s unique characteristics – because both avatar and patient have the same cancer type, down to the same mix of genetic mutations. Dr Simon Robinson is leading a team that will use advanced imaging technologies (such as MRI, PET, CT), and a state-of-the-art radiation research platform within the new Centre for Cancer Imaging at the ICR, to develop ways of assessing tumour response to the new agents within these avatars, thus speeding up the time taken to get them into clinical trials for cancer patients.

Oracle, through its many smaller donations from supporters, is funding the costs of a PhD student to work in Dr Robinson’s team over a four year period ending in 2019. Elise Lepicard was awarded this Oracle Studentship and started in her role on 1st February 2016.  This project has been kindly part-funded by the following trusts:

  • The Hospital Saturday Fund
  • The Steel Charitable Trust
  • The Mason Le Page Charitable Trust
  • The Worshipful Company of Grocers
  • Sir Samuel Scott of Yews Trust
  • The Aubrey Orchard-Lisle Charitable Trust
Dr Simon Robinson
Dr Simon Robinson

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