Pathology Research Projects  

EXCOVIR Immunology Research Study Opens at Royal Preston Hospital

The Immunology department at Royal Preston Hospital have developed a series of novel laboratory tests to assess T cell responses to coronavirus for a multi-site research study. T cells have a range of roles from direct killing of viruses to being a key regulator of the cytokine storm. Currently, much of the attention is directed to the ability of the immune system to produce antibodies however the evidence for long term protection and immunity is sparse. The EXCOVIR (EXploring COVID-19 Immune Responses) study will recruit patients in acute and convalescent phases of infection, and will investigate immune responses over a 12 month period post-infection with coronavirus.

The Immunology Department at RPH will be one the first NHS laboratories to be exploring the clinical benefit from measuring T cell responses. The new tests will enable us to investigate cytokine responses and measure immune cells specific to SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients following recovery from infection. A better understanding of the role and longevity of T cell responses is essential and will be translated into clinical practice to improve patient care, especially as a vaccine becomes widely available.

The study led by Professor Anthony Rowbottom and Miss Emma Callery will be supported by clinicians Dr Kirsty Challen (PI), Dr Munavvar, Dr Vyas, Dr Laha, Dr Gudur, Dr Southworth, Dr Elbashir and Dr Anantharachagan, the Clinical Research Facility and Clinical Trials Unit at UCLAN. If you would like to find out more updates will be posted here (opens in a new window) and you can also email Emma Callery. 


Cardiothoracic Tissue Bank Set Up 

A Cardiothoracic and Biofluid Research Bank has been set up to enable research into the better diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The bank is located within the cellular pathology department at the Royal Preston Hospital and will serve the whole area as part of a three-year project which has been funded by Rosemere.  The charity has provided over £32,000 to buy freezer units and other equipment to set up the research bank. 

Tissue, blood, urine and saliva will be collected from patients who have agreed to donate their samples, and are already undergoing lung cancer treatment at Blackpool Victoria Hospital – Lancashire and South Cumbria’s specialist cardiothoracic disease (heart/lung) centre, which undertakes lung cancer surgery on patients from across both counties.

Local consultants and university scientists will then apply to the bank for gifted specimen samples to help them in their research to identify new treatments and diagnostic tools. The research bank, which aspires to be self-financing by the time the charitable support ends, will also make samples available nationally at cost to pharmaceutical and other UK research centres.

Blackpool-based consultant histopathologist Dr Danielle Bury, who applied for the funding, said:

“Lung cancer is the UK’s third most common cancer with rates of the disease higher in the North West than in other parts of the country. We also have a higher than national average lung cancer death rate.

The development of a tissue and biofluid bank to assist with and facilitate an increase in local level lung cancer research, given its regional prevalence, will therefore be invaluable to improving patient outcomes in the future.  It will also improve links between our local hospitals and universities, encouraging the development of research interests, and increase the visibility of the region as leading in cancer research."

Detecting Lung Cancer Through Saliva Samples 

Danielle Bury, a Consultant Histopathologist at Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, has received funding from Cancer Research North West for a study which will test a new method of detection for lung cancer, designed to pick up the disease earlier, possibly before someone displays symptoms.

Lung cancer remains the 3rd most common cancer in the UK and lung, trachea and bronchus cancers are over 25% higher in the North West than in the rest of England. In Blackpool alone, there are approximately 160 new cases of lung cancer per year, many of which present late, meaning treatment is more challenging. Due to the high rates, Blackpool has recently been selected by NHS England as one of the first sites to develop the new proposed National Screening Programme for Lung Cancer. The programme will see people thought to be at risk of developing lung cancer being invited to a lung health check, with some also having a CT scan.

Danielle and her team hope their new testing method will be used as a part of the future National Screening Programme and could allow people to receive treatment sooner, with the aim of detecting lung cancer earlier and improving long-term prognosis in the region.

Over the next three years, Danielle and her team, which includes the appointment of the first post doctorate, Andrew Dickinson at BTH, will test saliva from a large mix of different people, including those who do not have disease. This will look at how accurate their testing method is and give some insight into how it can be used in a future clinical setting.

Danielle said:

“It’s an exciting time to be able to work on this study that could improve the survival rates of lung cancer for the whole region. It’s fantastic to receive funding from NWCR to enable us to carry out our research and work alongside an organisation whose awareness and prevention work aligns with our own ethos and hope for the future of cancer in our region.”


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