The Gastro-Intestinal Focus Group has established a comprehensive collaboration between basic scientists, clinician scientists, academic clinicians from CCRCB and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT), pathologists, bioinformaticians and medicinal chemists. It addresses a number of important clinical problems, both in the early and advanced disease settings.
The main activity in this focus area is on colorectal cancer. Traditionally a basic/translational group, its major goals and achievements to date are the identification of novel targets, in particular for specific molecular subtypes (eg: mutant Kras and mutant Braf), the identification of biomarkers for response to chemotherapy and novel targeted agents and the implementation of both research approaches into novel adaptive clinical trial designs. This significant activity has extended into the clinical research (clinical trials) arena, by leading one of the first early phase, European wide and multicentric clinical trials based on science generated by the group, and supported by European funds to the tune of several million pounds.
Parallel to the long-standing and established research in the CRC arena, the group has started to work in very focused, specific projects in other areas of gastrointestinal oncology, such as oesophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer and small bowel cancer.
Members of this group are also involved as clinical or scientific partners in several national and international phase I-III trials and are part of the NCRI colorectal/upper GI clinical studies groups and/or EORTC GI group.