CUTTING edge cancer research conducted in Oxford to create the treatments of the future will be able to continue thanks to a grant of about £9m.

Oxford Cancer Imaging Centre looks into new ways of picturing cancers and improves existing techniques such as X-rayS, MRI and CT scans.

The research has enabled the biology of cancers – including their growth and the way they work – to be studied to improve treatments and save lives.

Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have granted £35m over five years to four centres across the UK.

Oxford’s centre was formed five years ago thanks to a grant from the two bodies.

Katherine Vallis, a professor of radiation oncology at the Churchill Hospital, is part of the 30-strong imaging centre team.

She said: “The more advanced imaging is now able to tell us more about the cancer. “It can inform our decisions about how to treat a patient. It is a personalised approach and a much smarter way of imaging.”

She said advanced imaging can also be used during treatment to see how the cancer is responding to drugs.

The researchers have, for example, developed fluorescents that show surgeons where the cancer is under certain light. The cancer even glows on a computer screen, meaning the operation can be done using key-hole surgery. The fluorescents have been trialled on cancer patients in Oxford.

The team has also used advanced MR scanners to see how new drugs, which attack blood flow to breast cancer, react in patients. The hope is to be able to determine before treatment starts whether or not the patient would benefit from the drugs using just an MR scanner.

Prof Vallis added: “Everyone is delighted and thrilled that we are going to continue a very productive period.

“Imaging influences all the main treatments we use. “Ultimately it will improve outcomes in cancer treatments.”