Meet the lung researcher: Caroline

Professor Caroline Dive at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute is studying drug resistance in non-small cell lung cancer

Why do we need this study?

With non-small cell lung cancer, we’re making progress at giving patients the right drugs, based on the individual nature of their cancer. Patients often respond well initially to targeted drugs. However, over time, tumours often, if not always, become resistant and the cancer progresses.

It is difficult to understand why this happens, because it is generally not possible to take a biopsy (tissue sample) of patients’ tumours for detailed study. We need to overcome this problem.

What is involved?

We will take two blood samples from a patient’s arm: one when they first go to the oncology clinic, and another when their tumour fails to respond to treatment. These blood samples will contain tumour cells, which we can isolate and study. Using mice, we will observe the changes that occur in tumours between initially responding positively to treatment and later becoming drug resistant.

What do we hope to achieve?

Our aim is to understand more about why non-small cell lung cancer tumours become drug resistant. The hope then is that this knowledge can lead to testing new drugs, using mice and, later, in clinical trials with patients. Ultimately, this could lead to more effective treatments and better outcomes for people with non-small cell lung cancer.