Cancer and COVID-19 Research

Illustration of COVID-19 cell

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of life; highlighting challenges and opportunities for research and healthcare, as well as highlighting a range of social issues.

Manchester researchers have remained at the forefront of research during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the set-up of novel trials to investigate ways to treat COVID patients through the RECOVERY trial, to the reallocation of clinical personnel and reorganisation of research activities to enable research to continue in a safe and effective manner.

COVID-19 and Cancer

Specific to cancer, some patients with cancer are at increased risk if they develop COVID-19. Research into the risk COVID-19 poses to these patients is ongoing and actively being investigated by researchers in Manchester.

Manchester scientists are exploring a variety of basic, translational and clinical research questions to answer key questions of how COVID-19 affects patients with cancer. The areas currently being investigated include:

  • Does the COVID-19 virus increase side effects from cancer treatment?
  • How does the virus interact with cancer cells to affect cancer cell biology?
  • How are clinical trials affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Can we leverage our research expertise to aid in building testing capacity?
  • How does the virus impact persons with other health conditions as well as cancer?
  • Does COVID-19 have unique effects on cancer patients from different populations within Greater Manchester?
Scientist in the OCRB imaging cells

Research Activities

As a world-leading hub of cancer science, research has had to adapt to the new landscape. Laboratories across Manchester have continued to safely provide our vital research output adopting many of the virtual activities that are now part of the new norm. In addition, our academics have used their expertise and have engaged to find solutions to the many challenges we now face.



COVID-RT Lung is led by researchers at The Christie and has been established to collect data for patients undergoing treatment for lung cancer at treatment centres around the UK. The project is supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The aim of assessing the impact of the pandemic on radiotherapy delivery, and assessing the clinical evidence of reduced fractionation in radiotherapy treatment.



COSMIC-19 is a pilot study led by The Christie and open for recruitment at The Christie and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. It will assess whether artificial intelligence can predict clinical deterioration in patients with a suspected or positive COVID-19 diagnosis using continuous vital signs monitoring from wearable wearable sensors together with clinical data. Success in this study will enable reduced contact and reduced risk for healthcare workers, and evaluate the utility of continuous vital signs monitoring in facilitating earlier intervention.


Volunteering expertise at the Lighthouse Laboratory at Alderley Park

In spring and summer of 2020, researchers and scientists from The University of Manchester, including the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre and Division of Cancer Sciences supported the effort to rapidly escalate the national testing capacity by volunteering to work in the Lighthouse Laboratory set up at Alderley Park, Cheshire.


The Alderley Park Lighthouse Laboratory was set up by the UK Government in order to meet the national testing capabilities for samples suspected of being positive for COVID-19 and needed scientists with laboratory expertise to help facilitate testing.


CORONET, the COVID-19 Risk in ONcology Evaluation Tool

CORONET is an online tool to support decisions regarding hospital admissions or discharge in cancer patients presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 and the likely severity of illness. It is based on real world patient data. Funded by The Christie Charitable Foundation, the tool aids clinicians with decisions on patient admission and outcome predictions.


CORONET is still in early development and the version on the website is an early version that is likely to change. The model is currently undergoing peer review and the CORONET Team would be grateful for feedback.


COVID Catalysts

In a series of ‘COVID Catalyst‘ talks, experts from the University of  Manchester provided their expert opinions on some of the changes needed, and already underway, to achieve better outcomes for patients. Watch the Lectures from Professors Ananya Choudhury, Emma Crosbie and Stephen Taylor below.

An at-home urine test to revolutionise cervical cancer screening

Professor Emma Crosbie looks at whether there may be an accurate, cheaper, safe and less-invasive method of testing at a time of screening backlogs.

Professor Emma Crosbie headshot

A personalised pathway: cancer's road to recovery

Professor Stephen Taylor, Leech Professor of Pharmacology, says that as cancer treatment backlogs increase, personalised approaches are needed more than ever.

Professor Stephen Taylor headshot

The changing face of cancer treatment

Professor Ananya Choudhury, Chair and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology, looks at how cancer treatment is adapting in a world where COVID-19 looms.

Professor Ananya Choudhury in the MR-Linac analysis room

Download a summary of our Cancer and COVID-19 research activities (PDF, 3 MB)

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