July 2016 Update
As FORECEE enters its 10th month and the team returns from a productive meeting of the project’s partners in at the Prague, we are able to report further good progress on all research fronts.
Samples have been collected from hundreds women at clinical centres across Europe and we would like to thank all these participants for their time and donation of this valuable material. Together with the samples, questionnaire data are being collected that provide a detailed picture of women’s lifestyles and factors that affects their hormonal status at different points during their life (eg menarche, pregnancy history and menopause). This information may be important in developing a better understanding of an individual’s risk of developing any of the four main women’s cancers (breast, ovarian, womb and cervical).
All of the clinical partners – in Bergen, Prague, London, Milan, Munich and Southampton – continue to work extremely hard to increase the number of women they talk to each week so that we can achieve our ambitious targets. Having achieved National Institute of Health Research portfolio status for the study, the team at University College London (UCL) has also set up a network of sample collection centres in London and will continue to work with new centres to expand this network in the coming months. Additional centres in London include Guys and St Thomas’, the Royal Free, Imperial College and St Bartholomew’s Hospitals.
The lab team at UCL, led by Allie Jones, has developed a variety of protocols for sample handling and extracting the DNA for analysis. These protocols have to be able to handle the large number of samples that need to be processed in a relatively short time; good results are being generated with robotic sample handling and automation. The different sample types – cervical smear, blood samples or buccal (mouth) swabs – also require different approaches. Allie and her team are working closely with collaborators at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm who are providing smear samples from the Swedish National Clinical Cytology Biobank. These biobanked samples will be used, together with samples collected by FORECEE clinical partners, to develop and validate the FORECEE risk prediction tests.
Finally, following successful conclusion of the six focus groups (see News from May 2016), questions for a survey to assess the views of women across Europe on cancer risk prediction are being drafted by the team from the Harding Center for Risk Literacy in Berlin. The survey will be rolled out later this year.