Last month, the Onco-Innovation Programme — part of the CRUK Cambridge Centre and managed by our own Dr Rebecca Harris — launched a new rapid response data analysis pump prime call. This exciting new call was designed to seek collaborative project proposals from CRUK Cambridge Centre researchers and clinicians with multimodal data sets, wishing to address questions of clinical importance through the integration and interrogation of these data sets. These collaborations will draw on the expertise of the computational research team led by Namshik Han in the Milner Centre for Pathway Analysis.

The call attracted an exceptionally high standard of applications, and we are now delighted to announce that two projects, focused on different aspects of renal cell carcinoma, have been selected:


Dr Sarah Welsh (Department of Surgery and Urological Malignancies Programme Co-Lead) heads the first project, which will focus on evaluation of TKI response in renal cancers, using datasets generated from the NAXIVA trial. The key objectives will be to integrate data sets to 1) identify a signature of response to axitinib in clear cell renal cell carcinoma, which could subsequently be validated in larger datasets using data from the WIRE and ARTIST research studies and 2) to provide biological rational for combinations of axitibib with other systemic therapies for testing in future clinical trials.

“This award will enable us to analyse the clinical, imaging and translational data from this key positive clinical trial in much greater depth than we would have been able to do otherwise” says Dr Welsh. “We hope this will uncover novel signatures of response to this commonly used drug which can quickly be validated in our suite of on-going trials, and ultimately allow clinicians to make a more informed choice of treatment for patients.”


The second project is led by Dr Tom Mitchell (Wellcome Sanger Institute/Addenbrooke’s Hospital/Department of Surgery and member of the Urological Malignancies Programme) and will focus on uncovering pathways which allow tumours to escape the physical and immune constraints of their microenvironment. The project aims to identify potential therapeutic targets that might slow tumour growth at the tumour interface or that might shift the balance of immunogenicity further from immune tolerance.

Dr Mitchell said: “Working with the Milner Institute on this Onco-Innovation pump prime award gives us a fantastic opportunity to understand the interplay between the physical and immune properties of the tumour microenvironment. Renal cancers range from small masses which progress slowly through to lethal, invasive tumours. By combining our spatially localised single cell transcriptomic data with the Milner Therapuetics Institute’s multidimensional analyses we hope to unpick important pathways that can be therapeutically targeted to help treat patients with kidney cancer.”

“We look forward to following these selected projects as they move forward, and hope to build on the success of this call with future calls, so stay tuned!’ – Dr Rebecca Harris