A REVOLUTIONARY new ‘personalised’ cancer treatment and research project is underway in the North-East.

The PROSPECT-NE genome sequencing project will work with up to 800 cancer patients from across the region over the next four years.

It will help develop ‘personal’ cancer treatments, find out how cancer is impacting on patients’ health and determine in advance if side-effects are likely from treatment.

Funded by an £892,000 contribution from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, the project is being delivered at the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s new state-of-the-art Newcastle Molecular Pathology Node Proximity Lab.

Dr Alastair Greystoke, one of the consultants running the project, said: “We want to determine the abnormalities that may be found in the tumours of our patients; this will allow us to choose which are the most promising clinical trials targeting specific tumours that we should try and bring to this region.

“We know from previous, more limited projects, that the tumour profiles of our patients in the North-East may be very different from patients in the USA, or even in London.

“And we can now identify some of the individual abnormalities in a patients’ cancer, which may have allowed the cancer to form, grow and spread.

“In future this may allow us to target tumours with treatments that have been tailored to that individual tumour profile.

“We’ve really only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding cancer and genes.

“Genomic sequencing is helping us unearth the secrets of cancer and to find new ways to beat the disease.”

Funding for this project will help maintain the Sir Bobby Robson Centre’s position as one of the country’s leading early phase trials units.

The money has been invested in essential personnel and skills development for biomedical scientists, and will enable genomic sequencing of 200 samples a year.

Alan Shearer, a patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, said: “It’s hugely important to see where the money raised is being spent and it’s been fantastic to see the hard work that goes on behind-the-scenes.

“Because you hear a lot about work funded, but until you actually see it for yourself, you don’t get a sense of just how technical it all is.

“A lot of the science has been above my head but today’s been a real eye-opener.”