Project information

How people respond to therapy for rectal cancer

Rectal cancer is a common form of colorectal cancer. Although everyone with rectal cancer receives chemoradiotherapy, up to 40% of people will not respond to treatment. This leaves them undergoing aggressive treatment for no benefit.

April 2018 - March 2021

Charity information: Bowel & Cancer Research

Bowel & Cancer Research logo
  • Need


    Rectal cancer occurs in the lower bowel, just above the anus, the rectum. It is one of the most common forms of bowel cancer.

    Currently patients diangosed with rectal cancer will undergo chemo-radiotherapy before surgery with the aim of reducing the size of the tumour in order to make the surgery more effective.

    Responses to this vary widely, with up to 40% of people gaining no benefit at all from this therapy.


    The team have identifed a specific gene which they think is prevents cancer cells dieing. Their aim is to understand the mechanism by which the cells are protected from cell death.

    They will use 2D and 3D cell culture models, clinical samples and population based studies to see whether the interactions of related genes could explain why current treatments fails some individuals.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To understand why some people fail to respond to chemo-radiotherapy when treated for rectal cancer.


    » We will undertake medical research to find the answer.

    At the end of the project the researcher will have identified whether the protein they are looking at does play a role in response to treatment.

  • Impact


    Ultimately we wish to identify a


    The risk, as always with medical research, is that the original hypothesis - that our protein of interest is a marker of response - does not do so. Over the course of 3 years the research team will respond to findings as they arise which may mean that new avenues come to light as a result of this work.


    We report to donors each year as the research team reports to us.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £6,735

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,735 consumables tissue culture and plastic ware
  • Background


    The project will take place at the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol.


    Individuals diagnosed with rectal cancer.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We fund the best science across the UK into bowel cancer and other bowel diseases and run a specialised PhD studentship programme which this project will be part of.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Professor Ann Williams

    She is Professor of Experimental Oncology and will supervise the PhD student.