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Building a Sustainable UK Diagnostic Sector III: Novel approaches to cancer diagnosis – regional strengths and opportunities

Monday 18 March 2024 - 09:30am - 2.45pm - In-person event only

Location: Space 2, Radcliffe Conference Centre, University of Warwick

About the event:

This conference is the third in the series and will focus on cancer diagnostics. We will explore novel approaches to cancer diagnosis using various technologies such as liquid biopsies, imaging and digital pathology. Our regional strengths in these approaches will be showcased and we will consider how best to exploit these developments as we continue to build a world-leading diagnostics enterprise in the West Midlands.

As before, this event will bring together key stakeholders from across the NHS, academia, and industry to explore how we can enhance cross-sector collaboration to turbo-charge local growth by building the infrastructure necessary for the development and implementation of innovative diagnostics. With a focus on our distinctive expertise in diagnostics, we will consider how best to exploit these assets to create a sustainable and internationally-recognised activity in the West Midlands.

      Collaborators: Warwick Cancer Research Centre

      Dr Douglas Ward

      Doug Ward is a Senior Research Fellow leading the laboratory research into biomarkers at the BCRC. His group’s research spans all aspects of tissue and liquid biopsy biomarkers - from initial candidate discovery though to validation and translation into clinical use.

      Doug spent the early part of his career using biophysical techniques to investigate protein structure and function. This led to an interest in mass spectrometry-based proteomics which evolved into utilising proteomic technologies to study bladder cancer, and the resultant identification of prognostic protein biomarkers. Next generation sequencing has now become a key technology for DNA and RNA-based biomarker research and his group have recently developed and validated a test based on targeted sequencing of urine DNA for the non-invasive detection of bladder cancer.

      Ramesh Arasaradnam, OBE

      Ramesh is a Gastroenterologist and Professor of Medicine at University of Warwick and Leicester. He is currently the Academic Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians London. His research interest is varied from mechanistic insights into colon cancer, bile acid physiology but largely focused on diagnostic tools in cancer and inflammation to improve clinical pathways. He set up the first patient charity for bile acid diarrhoea – BAD, UK.

      Dr Sarah Moseley

      Dr Sarah Moseley is Head of Med Affairs Europe at GRAIL Bio UK Ltd, where she leads country level and international Medical Affairs strategy. Sarah joined GRAIL in 2019 to build and lead a National Medical Affairs Field Team and strategy in support of broad adoption of the Galleri® test across the United States. Sarah has over 20 years experience, holding a number of leadership positions in global pharma and diagnostic companies in both R&D and Medical Affairs, including the National Medical Field Team Lead at Roche Diagnostics Corporation in the US, where she was accountable for the medical launch of numerous paradigm shifting in vitro diagnostic solutions. Sarah also served as Director for Medical Diagnostics Oncology at AstraZeneca and research roles in the R&D Molecular Oncology Division at Genentech. Sarah completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco and earned a PhD in Molecular Genetics from UC Santa Cruz and Bachelors in Biochemistry from University of East Anglia, UK.

      Prof Emma MacPherson

      Having completed her PhD in Physics at Cambridge in 2005, Emma has worked for TeraView Ltd as a Medical Scientist until moving to Hong Kong in 2006. Prof MacPherson set up a terahertz laboratory at the Department of Electronic Engineering, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 2007. She has been on the International Organising Committee for the Infrared and Millimeter Wave and Terahertz Wave (IRMMW-THz) conference series since 2009 and was the General Conference Chair of the 2015 IRMMW-THz conference held at CUHK. In 2017 Prof MacPherson won a Wolfson Merit award to support her return to the UK at Warwick University, and joined the Ultrafast Photonics group in the Physics department as a Reader in October 2017 and she was promoted to Professor in 2021. Prof MacPherson is PI of the £8M EPSRC Programme grant, "Terabotics" which is combining advances is THz technology and surgical robotics. Her research has featured on Sky news international TV (Prof. Emma MacPherson talks to Sky News International about her skin cancer research ( .

      Dr Hardip Sandhu

      For 17 years, Dr Sandhu has focussed on investigating therapy-induced cardiovascular injury (TICvI). Building on her “proof-of-principle” aiming to deliver TICvI screening models that will aid the Pharma Industry in identifying cardiovascular adverse effects of their candidate drugs, allowing them to make changes and avoid wasting valuable resources developing a drug candidate that would ultimately fail in the clinic due to its cardiovascular adverse effects. The TICvI screening models could also be used in a healthcare setting to monitor patients who are undergoing therapy known to be associated with cardiovascular adverse effects.

      Dr Fayyaz Minhas

      Dr Fayyaz Minhas is an associate professor of AI in biomedicine at Warwick Department of Computer Science with >10 years of experience in research and academia. He is the deputy Director of the Tissue Image Analytics centre and is affiliated with the Pathology image data Lake (PathLAKE) consortium, Warwick Cancer Research Centre and University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire Institute for Applied & Translational Technologies. He is a recipient of numerous competitive awards and grants such as the Fulbright scholarship. His research publications in high-impact journals and patents reflect his commitment to solving problems in biology and medicine using machine learning.



      Registration and refreshments

      1000 Welcome - Lawrence Young and Michael Chappell, University of Warwick  
      1010 New research strategy - David Leadley, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Warwick  

      Development and commercialisation of GALEAS Bladder, a liquid biopsy test for bladder cancer - Doug Ward, GALEAS™ Bladder

      Doug will describe how researchers at the University of Birmingham have utilised clinical specimens collected at hospitals across the region to develop and validate a urine based test for detecting bladder cancer. The test relies on detecting mutations in a panel of 23 cancer associated genes using urine DNA and exhibits high sensitivity and specificity for incident disease detection. I will talk about the need for such a test, the research behind the test, working with a Birmingham-based company, Nonacus, to develop the test as a commercial product, their commercial strategy, and our ongoing clinical studies and future goals

      1045 Next Generation Diagnostics in GI Medicine - Ramesh Arasaradnam, OBE / Warwick Medical School  
      1110 Comfort Break  

      Multi-cancer early detection tests for cancer screening - Dr Sarah L. Moseley, Head of Med Affairs Europe, GRAIL Bio UK Ltd

      Cancers without a screening programme account for the majority of cancer cases, and most cancers that result in death are detected in advanced stages when it's too late. Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests are designed to detect many types of cancer from a sample of blood. Galleri® is an MCED blood test that has been shown to detect a signal shared by more than 50 types of cancer and to predict the tissue type or organ where the cancer signal originates. Sarah will outline the Galleri test and the current evidence supporting its analytical and clinical validation for cancer screening and potential for other applications. She will also provide an introduction to the NHS-Galleri trial, a prospective, randomised controlled trial with more than 140,000 participants that is investigating the Galleri test for population screening in England.


      Terahertz research at Warwick and UHCW: Terabotics Programme Grant - Emma MacPherson, Department of Physics, University of Warwick

      New technology that will marry probes that can detect cancer tumours through the skin with high-precision robotic surgery is to be developed for use in hospital settings for the first time in a project led by the University of Warwick. The Terabotics project will use probes that use terahertz radiation, or T-rays, to scan for tumours under the skin while medical-grade surgical robots will be adapted to use these scans to guide them in removing tumours in skin and colorectal cancer patients more precisely.

      1240 Lunch in the restaurant  

      Diagnostic miRNA biomarkers for Therapy-induced cardiovascular injury (TICvI) - Dr Hardip Sandhu, Assistant Professor Research, Centre for Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University

      Early detection of TICvI remains a major safety issue in drug development. Circulating cardiovascular injury-associated miRNAs in patient blood samples can serve as early biomarkers for TICvI. My team at Coventry University work closely with cardiologists, oncologists and Pharma Industry partners on novel collaborative projects. As a successful outcome, we have assessed the specific target roles and expression signatures of cardiac injury-associated miRNAs, and these can serve as potential TICvI-associated biomarkers in cancer patients receiving anti-cancer therapy. Detection of these novel TICvI-associated miRNA biomarkers holds immense commercial potential, as they can robustly screen patients and candidate drugs for TICvI adverse effects.


      Cross-linking omics and histological imaging with AI - Dr Fayyaz Minhas, Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick

      We will explore the integration of various 'omics' data (like genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) with histological imaging using artificial intelligence. This integration aims to enhance our understanding of the complex biological processes and their manifestation in tissues at a molecular level. The use of AI can offer novel insights into disease mechanisms, potentially leading to more precise diagnostics and personalized treatment strategies. The talk would also discuss the challenges and advancements in combining these diverse data types through AI algorithms to create a more holistic view of pathology.

      1440 Closing comments  

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