Current Edition

Integrated pathology unit to focus on novel technology

The first unit of its kind in England will identify biomarkers and diagnose cancer much faster.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have announced the opening of their new Integrated Pathology Unit (IPU).

The facility will allow researchers, with a particular interest in clinical trial research, to establish and develop new tests for cancer – speeding up the diagnosis process for results.

Funded by the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, the ICR, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Royal Marsden and ICR Biomedical Research Centre, the IPU will have access to a considerable portfolio of pivotal clinical trials.

It is hoped that the unit will bring pathology into the modern era by incorporating AI, pioneering laboratory techniques, helping pathologists deliver new research programmes as well as improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer for patients.

Pathologists operating at the new IPU – located at the NIHR Centre for Molecular Pathology in Sutton – are already digitising tissue samples from patients treated at the Royal Marsden, or patients participating in clinical trials at other cancer centres around the UK.

New technologies they develop could also show how different cancers interact with their environment as they develop and spread – helping to diagnose patients more accurately. Meanwhile, researchers are also incorporating computer algorithms to measure tumour boundaries and the makeup of cancer tissues more accurately.

Professor David Cunningham, director of clinical research at the Royal Marsden, commented: “The research taking place at the new Integrated Pathology Unit will help us understand cancer better, which could have a significant impact on survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients.”

He added: “Being able to understand how cancers develop and spread may influence treatment options for patients, and new research could result in pioneering tests which may help to diagnose cancer more precisely. I’m excited for what the future holds, and to see how new research discoveries may impact cancer patients in the future.”

Professor Kristian Helin, chief executive at the ICR, concluded: “The development of the IPU – along with our colleagues at the Royal Marsden – as one of Europe’s leading centres for digital pathology, is an important part of our mission to defeat cancer. Digital pathology is set to hand scientists and clinicians a whole new set of tools to understand, diagnose, and treat cancer.”