Research is vital in providing the evidence we need to transform services and outcomes” – The Five Year Forward View (Department of Health, 2017)

Research and Innovation are embedded at University Hospitals Sussex. The Trust’s research studies aim to find out important information in response to a health question; a well-designed study provides reliable evidence that can help improve NHS services and treatments, the knowledge and understanding of health professionals, and give patients the best outcomes.

The charity is dedicated to supporting the Trust’s Research and Innovation Strategy, and as such, has committed to funding components of a three-year medical research fellowship. In partnership with the University of Sussex, My University Hospitals Sussex is supporting Dr Stephen Robinson to undertake his PhD, developing blood tests to help with diagnosis, subtyping and monitoring treatment for brain tumours.

Glioblastomas are the most common type of cancerous brain tumour in adults. Fast-growing and aggressive, they display a high recurrence rate and resistance to current common and highly invasive therapies, which include maximal surgical resection and radiotherapy. Therefore, the development of new procedures to progress diagnosis and treatment of glioblastomas is urgently needed.

The charity-funded research aims to move forward extracellular vesicles based liquid biopsies (blood tests) for the identification of glioblastoma biomarkers and leading to clinical implementation. Meaningful biological insights derived from the blood of patients with brain tumours will open the possibilities for non-invasive diagnosis, subtyping and monitoring response to treatment.

This study directly involves the local patient population in its ground-breaking clinical-translational research.

Dr Stephen Robinson is a Clinical Oncology Registrar at the Trust specialising in systemic therapy and radiation for cancer treatment. So far one year into the medical research fellowship, he said:

“Pushing our collective knowledge forward has been a driving force throughout my career, and this fellowship is a great opportunity to do just that. Our lab’s research into developing a liquid biopsy will tackle many of the difficulties that come with diagnosing and treating glioblastomas. If a blood test can inform us about a person’s brain tumour, then we can refine our ability to provide a prognosis and decide on a treatment plan. This capability would enable more frequent monitoring, lessen costs and delays and reduce anxiety for both doctors and patients. It would be a significant step-forward. And to have the Trust working with the University of Sussex is a fantastic opportunity to learn, improve and evolve cancer treatment.”

If you would like to help us fund more incredible innovation and research initiatives to improve the care in your local NHS hospitals, then please consider making a donation to My University Hospitals Sussex today.

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