Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

As part of World Cancer Day 2022 we are diving into 10 of Oxford’s most impactful historical and modern contributions to the field of cancer science and treatment. Read more about what Oxford researchers have done to shape this ever-important area of medical science.

Radcliffe Library and  woman at a machine in a lab

1. Uncovering the significance of hypoxia in cancer science

A discovery so significant that it warranted a Nobel prize: Sir Peter Ratcliffe is famed for his work on oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) and subsequent cellular responses.

Cancers have unique microenvironments, which they must overcome in order to grow rapidly and uncontrollably. By understanding these conditions and how they come about, clinicians and researchers can strive to develop new drugs to reverse or suppress these pathways.

During his time in Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, Sir Peter discovered that a specific hormone, known as EPO, was involved in the production of blood cells in response to low oxygen levels in the kidneys. The underlying mechanism behind this process was later applied to cancer, and explained how cancers could create new blood vessels to sustain their fast and uncontrolled growth. This discovery was so significant, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2019. Ratcliffe’s work into EPO has paved the way for the development of new drugs to improve the efficacy of cancer treatments.

NOW: Continuing this important work into tumour microenvironments, the Oxford ARCADIAN project is now investigating how common antimalarial drug Atovaquone can help to reduce the hypoxic environment of tumours and improve the efficacy of treatments such as radiation. 

 Read the full story on the Oxford Cancer website. 

Similar stories

Long COVID: vaccination could reduce symptoms, new research suggests

While evidence suggests that people who are vaccinated before they get COVID are less likely to develop long COVID than unvaccinated people, the effectiveness of vaccination on existing long COVID has been less clear.

Com-COV vaccine study to research third dose booster options for 12-to-15-year-olds

Researchers running the University of Oxford-led Com-COV programme have launched a further study of COVID-19 vaccination schedules in young people aged 12 to 15 – with a focus on assessing different options for a third dose booster vaccination.

Population-scale study highlights ongoing risk of COVID-19 in some cancer patients despite vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination is effective in most cancer patients, but the level of protection against COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation and death offered by the vaccine is less than in the general population and vaccine effectiveness wanes more quickly.

New reporting guidelines developed to improve AI in healthcare settings

New reporting guidelines, jointly published in Nature Medicine and the BMJ by Oxford researchers, will ensure that early studies on using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to treat real patients will give researchers the information needed to develop AI systems safely and effectively.

Major boost for Oxford’s mission to counter future pandemic threats

The Moh Family Foundation has given a substantial gift to support the work of Oxford University’s Pandemic Sciences Institute, greatly strengthening its ability to identify and counter future pandemic threats and ensure equitable access to treatments and vaccines around the world.