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Pioneering ideas to help tackle cancer, using bubbles and artificial intelligence

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Rosalind Franklin, Steve Jobs and Marie Curie are just three of the countless pioneers throughout history who’ve changed how we think about the world.

And now Cancer Research UK wants to change how we think about cancer – by seeking out and funding modern day pioneers who could help us find innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

If you have an idea that is truly novel, the Pioneer Award is for you.

But what counts as a novel idea? Let’s take a look at two of the recently funded projects.

Project 1: Nano-bubble drinks to help treat tumours

Cancer Research Pioneer Award, bubbles
Cancer Research Pioneer Award, bubbles

We already know that oxygen deficiency in tumours can cause cancer cells to adapt, making them more resistant to treatments.

Using tiny oxygen bubbles – nanobubbles – has already been shown to significantly increase effectiveness of treatment but current techniques have relied on delivering oxygen directly to the tumour site by injection which can lead to unwanted side effects.

Professor Eleanor Stride from the University of Oxford is exploring another approach - using a ‘fizzy drink’. She is trying to develop a drink with oxygen nanoparticles.

There are many advantages including a reduced risk of infection and potential for use in combination with other treatments.

Her work will focus on pancreatic cancer – this is important because it is a type of cancer for which there are currently low survival rates and better treatments are urgently needed.

Project 2: A.I. and surgical decision-making

Cancer Research Pioneer Award, Artificial-intelligence

Professor Richard Edmondson, from the University of Manchester, has an idea that exemplifies the “all welcome” nature of the award. He plans to use large data sets and algorithms to predict the outcomes of cancer surgeries.

Richard believes that calculations incorporating a greater number of factors, compared to previous work, (including patient information, tumour biology and surgeon details) will make better predictions.

This isn’t a new technology and it has already been used to great success in banking and commerce, but now it could help clinicians decide if, and when, to carry out surgery.

Not only could this standardise surgical decisions and improve patient outcomes, but it could also:

  • prevent unnecessary procedures
  • reduce suffering and risk of infection in people with cancer

What makes this funding competition so unique?

“Time & tide wait for no man” and the same is true of great ideas.

With several deadlines for submitting your idea throughout the year and a maximum of four months from submission to funding (up to £200,000), we are always looking for the next game-changing idea in to help us beat cancer sooner.

Watch our video to hear from the Committee what they’re looking for.

Applications are welcome from individuals and teams from all fields:

  • software design
  • population research
  • computer engineering
  • robotics
  • photonics
  • nanotechnology
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics,

just to name a few.

You do not need huge amounts of data to back up your proposal; we will judge the potential of your idea.

Applications are judged through a unique process:

  • Submit an idea – a short, two page application
  • Anonymously shortlisted – by a world-leading Committee of innovators
  • You pitch your idea – in a dragons den style meeting
  • We fund your idea

Apply today

If you have an idea that fits the bill, apply today by visiting the Cancer Research UK website - the next funding deadline is 5th September 2016.

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