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bowel cancer research across the North East
Open Lab is involved in a ground-breaking £985,000 cancer research and treatment project, funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation aiming to reverse the region’s high incidence and low survival rates of bowel cancer (also called colorectal cancer).
The Colorectal Cancer Screening Prevention Endoscopy and Early Diagnosis project, or COLO-SPEED, will see 18 regional NHS endoscopy units – from Whitehaven to Sunderland, and Northallerton to Cramlington (full list below) – recruiting up to 5,000 patients a year to help speed up research into the disease.
Professor Colin Rees, Professor of Gastroenterology at Newcastle University and South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, with the support and input of colleagues within the NHS and Newcastle University – including key collaborators Linda Sharp, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at Newcastle University and Dr Kyle Montague from Newcastle University’s Open Lab – has designed COLO-SPEED to create, “a North East led step change in bowel cancer research.”
Open Lab will work with partners to develop a novel digital platform, which will provide a resource and tools to support the project that will be used to collect data, feedback results and deliver ongoing patients and public engagement.
Digital health applications will also be used to collect data, feedback results and deliver ongoing engagement.
COLO-SPEED will harness the enthusiasm of local endoscopy teams and build a long-term sustainable research infrastructure, using the patient contact point of endoscopy to develop a population-based “experimental platform”.
This will recruit patients into a wide range of colorectal cancer (CRC) research studies across the disease continuum, creating a unique, world-leading, resource for CRC screening, prevention and early diagnosis (SPED) research, delivering benefits to patients, the wider population and society of the NE.
COLO-SPEED will deliver a genuine 360-degree partnership with patients and public, putting them at the centre of prioritising, advising and informing CRC research and co-producing knowledge.
Professor Rees says: “We want to see research that used to take years happening within months. And to make sure it becomes of benefit to patients quickly.
“Essentially, COLO-SPEED will provide the structure to deliver new research projects far faster than we currently can. And we’ll do that with help from clinicians in regional endoscopy units and support from patients across the region.
“To use a football analogy, if you had to build the stadium and source the players and supporters every time you played a match, it would be a very slow process. Thanks to this funding from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, COLO-SPEED will ensure everything we need is already in place when we have to find the answer to a question through targeted research.”
Facts about colorectal cancer
- 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK each year – and 16,000 people die from the disease (44 every day).
- Rates vary substantially across England and are very high in the North East – men in this region have the highest bowel cancer incidence rates in England with women also in the upper half of incidence rates.
- Survival rates for men and women in the North East are also amongst the lowest in the country and the survival rates in the UK are lower than in many other European countries.
Open Lab will ensure the design and development of a usable and scalable platform. The NE team will be supported a range of researchers in the NE and be supported by key collaborators throughout the UK, notably Professor Mark Hull (Leeds) and Ms Farhat Din (Edinburgh) who will sit on the NE steering group to provide expertise and links for eventual national implementation of COLO-SPEED.
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