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Cancer Research UK Names Latest Grand Challenge Competition Winners

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — Cancer Research UK announced today that it has awarded nearly £60 million ($78.2 million) in funding to support three US investigator-led research initiatives focused on cancer progression and treatment response.

The five-year research programs will receive up to £20 million each under Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge competition — which was launched in 2015 and announced its first batch of winners in early 2017 — and include collaborators from Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and Israel.

The first project is being spearheaded by scientists from Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who are studying how the microbiome influences the development of bowel cancer and its response to treatment. The effort will use imaging approaches to visualize the interactions between bacteria, cancer cells, immune cells, and healthy tissue, as well as genomic data from cancer patients to uncover links between microbiota, tumors, and patient characteristics.

In the second project, an international team led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco is taking aim at inflammation-associated cancer, and will use a variety of technologies including single-cell RNA analysis and a novel image analysis platform to understand the molecular mechanisms that link inflammation and certain malignancies.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School are leading the final project, which will combine data from functional genomic screens, in vivo models, and cancer genomics studies to understand the effects of cancer-associated mutations and why they trigger disease in some tissues but not others. This work is also receiving £10 million in support from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research.

"Individually, these research teams are among the best in the world in their respective fields," Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said in a statement. "By bringing them together across borders, Grand Challenge is enabling these teams to think bigger and establish new and exciting collaborations."

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