CRF research highlights

We are currently supporting nearly 150 research studies, across a range of cancers, resulting in approximately 1,000 patient visits per year for MRI or PET/CT.

80% of our research portfolio is support of early phase (phase 1 and 2) studies run from our drug development and clinical units, evaluating response to new treatments. The other 20% of studies are imaging-focussed, exploring the latest advances in technology to help diagnose and assess cancer earlier.

Image-guided Theranostics in Multiple Myeloma (iTIMM)

Theranostics is the use of diagnostic tests to decide which patients will benefit from certain treatments, allowing the most appropriate therapy to be given. Our Imaging Clinical Research Facility is supporting the iTIMM study, where myeloma patients have whole body MRI (WB-MRI) and PET/CT imaging to assess their myeloma treatment response. Assessment of myeloma is difficult as it is a cancer that can happen anywhere within the bone marrow, requiring imaging of the whole skeleton. WB-MRI not only provides this visualisation, but can detect disease before it can be seen by X-ray or CT. Detection of residual disease can provide an indication of prognosis and an opportunity for further treatment.

Chest images demontstrating the presence of multifocal disease by MRI, that is not visible by plain X-ray.

Machine Learning In Myeloma Response (MALIMAR)

Whole body diffusion weighted (WB DWI) imaging provides accurate and vital information of the amount of disease as well as the response to treatment in many cancer types.  However, each examination is made up of over 1000 images which needs to be interpreted by a Radiologist. The time taken to read a WB DWI is much longer than a standard MRI scan and for this reason some centres are not able to offer the service.   Research staff at The Royal Marsden and Imperial College have worked together to develop a highly specialised computer system that is able to perform an initial and very rapid interpretation of these examinations for the Radiologist to then review.  The computer system must be ‘trained’ and part of this is being able to recognise healthy tissue as well as cancerous tissue.  This study recruited healthy volunteers to undergo WB DWI imaging in order to provide the computer system with the data required to teach it what healthy tissue looks like.

Whole Body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (WISE) study.

This study aims to determine the diagnostic performance of a novel software tool for use in conjunction with whole body MRI (WB-MRI) to evaluate response to treatment in advanced prostate cancer patients. This could potentially see WB-MRI replace CT and bone scan for the management of these patients.

Targeted treatments

We are supporting early phase research studies of Targeted Radionuclide Therapy (TRT). In these trials, radiopharmaceuticals are given to patients, where they target and bind to specific tumour cell receptors, making the cancer visible. Solid tumours, such as prostate cancer, can therefore be detected at an early stage. A PET scan can select those patients who have sufficient receptors to benefit from subsequent receptor-targeted treatments, where radio-labelled compounds deliver the ionising isotope specifically to the tumour cells, destroying them.

Collaborative working

UK Clinical Research Facility Network

The NIHR Royal Marsden CRF is a member of the UKCRF Network, a collaboration of clinical research facilities and other experimental medicine infrastructure across the UK and Ireland. This has been established to develop, share and implement excellence in operational practice to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of studies, and drive forward initiatives that improve quality of patient experience.

You can find out more about the UKCRF Network.

The CR UK National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator NCITA

The Royal Marsden/Institute of Cancer Research is part of the first co-ordinated national imaging network, NCITA. Seven imaging centres are receiving funding from Cancer Research UK for the development and introduction of the latest imaging technologies to help advances in basic and clinical cancer research.

Our CRF is a recognised centre-of-excellence within the NCITA network, providing expertise and imaging trial support in whole body MRI (WB-MRI) and other advanced imaging techniques. NCITA provides a platform, which links imaging centres of excellence, to facilitate translation of imaging techniques developed in our CRF into national research and clinical practice.

Sharing our expertise

As a specialist cancer imaging CRF, we develop enhanced scanning techniques to improve tumour detection and characterisation. This expertise is used to support trials that evaluate response to new treatments developed at The Royal Marsden and Institute of Cancer Research and to select the most appropriate treatment option for each patient. 

We have considerable experience and expertise in delivering whole body MRI (WB-MRI) and have successfully provided educational support for other centres initiating a WB-MRI service. We run study days for healthcare professionals and host visitors to learn about performing and reporting WB scans.

We also have the expertise to train and develop staff in other advanced MRI techniques and in supporting studies requiring PET imaging. From this unique position, we offer cancer imaging support to the UKCRF Network.

If you are interested or would like to discuss collaborative opportunities, please contact us here

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)

Fundamental to the work of the Imaging CRF is our PPI strategy. This sets out how we will raise awareness of our imaging research and ensure that it enables outcomes that directly affect patient care. We ensure that our research is focused on the needs of the patient by actively engaging with patients and the public and encouraging their involvement in all stages of the research process.

Patient representatives input directly into the management of our CRF and our PPI strategy. They ensure clarity of patient information and work with us to provide PPI training for both researchers and patients who would like to become involved with the work we do. We also host open days and participate in events with schools and charities.

Taking part in Research

If you are interested in taking part in a research trial please ask your clinical team about suitable studies. If you are not a Royal Marsden patient, you will need to speak to your GP or oncologist in the first instance and ask about being referred to the hospital.

A list of active research studies  can be accessed below. You can find out about health and social care research that is taking place across the UK on the UK Clinical Trials Gateway.

For more information

If you would like to become involved with the work of our CRF, make a research suggestion or apply to join the research review panel, please contact us via email or for general enquiries call us on 0208 915 6624.