How Manchester’s cancer research community remobilised during the coronavirus pandemic: A Blog Series
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, cancer researchers, technicians and professional services staff in Manchester were among the multitude of personnel across the world who redeployed their research and healthcare expertise to tackle the new disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on many areas of cancer research. Laboratories and research activities closed for many months, leading many researchers to work from home. To find out more about how some of our researchers have transitioned, in May, we spoke to four PhD students on how they have refocused their previously lab-based research activities to the living room.
Additionally, many regular cancer treatment services like screening and clinical trials had to be temporarily paused while the impact of COVID on potentially vulnerable patients was fully understood. In fact, according to research carried out by Cancer Research UK, an estimated 2.1 million people will experience cancer screening delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to many warnings that by failing to identify the cancers in their earliest stage, treatments available to patients may no longer be curative.
Researching COVID-19 and Cancer
In this new age, Manchester researchers have adapted their skills and expertise to meet the new challenge of COVID-19. Cancer researchers have applied laboratory expertise to assist in the testing of potentially COVID-positive samples, develop COVID-19-specific clinical trials, and begin investigating the comorbidity of COVID-19 and cancer at the cellular level.
Clinical Research Training Fellows have returned to the clinical frontline, treating patients affected by COVID-19 as well as working hard to maintain cancer treatment services at The Christie which was named as the North West Cancer Hub. Our researchers have leveraged their capabilities in helping to test suspected COVID-positive samples; and our support teams have supported the NHS through the production of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Team Science lies at the core of research in Manchester, and it is this team mentality that has led to the development of new clinical trials like COSMIC-19, as well as new collaborations such as that between the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and the Lighthouse Laboratories at Alderley Park.
Want to know more?
This kicks off the first of a regular blog series from the MCRC examining Manchester’s multifaceted involvement in re-establishing cancer treatment in the era of COVID 19. Our stories will focus on some of the most significant shifts from ‘business as usual’ in this COVID-impacted world as well as the developments our researchers and community has made to minimise the risk for both patients and staff during the pandemic.
So, join us next week for the next blog in this series, where we will be looking at how the Manchester Biobank has adapted to the difficulties in accessing, processing and storing patient samples during this global pandemic.