Bladder cancer is a common cancer with over 10,000 patients diagnosed each year in the UK and 40-50,000 patients living with the disease at any one time.
For decades bladder cancer research has attracted a disproportionately small amount of research funding when compared with other cancers, and so bladder cancer patients have not experienced some of the ‘breakthroughs’ witnessed in other cancers. Our ethos is to work collaboratively across multiple scientific and academic disciplines to overcome some of these barriers in order to translate biomedical science into healthcare benefits for bladder cancer patients.
Specifically, The Bladder Cancer Research Centre (BCRC) is a strategic multidisciplinary grouping within the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham. Under the directorship of Mr Richard T Bryan, the BCRC undertakes translational research into urothelial cancer, with the core themes of:
We intend for our research to directly impact bladder cancer patients and patient pathways by, for example, reducing the need for diagnostic and surveillance cystoscopy (biomarkers and genomics), by ensuring that the right patients receive the right treatments at the right time (biomarkers and proteomics, genomics and bioinformatics), by developing new drugs and new surgical approaches (novel therapeutics and bio-medical engineering), and by making changes to clinical processes to reduce the time taken for diagnosis and for receiving the correct treatment (clinical research and epidemiology).
Our previous research and innovations for bladder cancer patients exemplify these intentions, and include:
Demonstrating the utility of urinary cell-free (cf)DNA for diagnostic biomarker development
Identifying aggressive ‘basal’ subtypes of bladder cancer with similarities to some breast cancers
Developing multiparmateric MRI as an alternative to transurethral resection for patients with suspected muscle-invasive bladder cancer;
Establishing the role of narrow band imaging cystoscopy in bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment;
Investigating the importance of treatment delays and the centralisation of services on patient outcomes.