Skip to content


Bladder Cancer Research

Cancer Research Bladder cancer usually develops in the lining of the bladder, and can spread to the muscle surrounding the organ. The most common sign of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, with others including more frequent or sudden urges to urinate or a burning sensation whilst urinating. Smoking is thought to cause around half of all cases of bladder cancer.
 

The number of cases of bladder cancer across Yorkshire and the Humber has decreased in recent years, but still remains high at over 4500 new cases per year in the region and unfortunately the 5 year survival rate in the region is worse than in England as a whole. Bladder cancer frequently comes back after surgery making is more difficult and more expensive to treat and there have been few breakthroughs in the last 20 years, meaning that research is urgently needed in this area.

 

 

Cancer ResearchFGFR3 translocations in bladder cancer

Bladder cancers often have mutations in a family of proteins known as FGF receptors which can drive the cancer’s growth. Particular treatments can be used which target these proteins, and it has been found that the cells most sensitive to these treatments are those with a specific mutation which causes new “fusion” proteins to be produced within the cancer cells. This project will investigate how these proteins function, how often they are found in patient samples, and how they affect patients’ outcomes. A further aim will be to establish tests to identify tumours with these “fusion” proteins so that patients can be selected for the targeted therapies.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor Margaret Knowles
  • Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology
  • Award amount: £187,176
  • October 2011 – September 2014

 

 

Cancer ResearchTelomerase-associated changes in gene expression in premalignancy and cancer

Telomerase is a protein produced by many cancer cells which helps them to divide uncontrollably. Dr Chapman’s lab have found that one effect of telomerase is to turn on and off specific genes to result in a particular genetic profile. One of these genes, Necdin, normally helps to prevent cancer from developing and is switched off by telomerase. Changes in other genes within the profile may explain how cancers metastasise and grow more rapidly. Future work can use these gene profile patterns to diagnose cancer and devise new treatments.

 

  • Principal investigator: Dr Emma Chapman
  • Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology
  • Award amount: £241,855
  • January 2011- January 2015

 

 

Cancer ResearchEpigenetic carcinogenesis in the urothelium: development of a model system and examination of candidate occupational carcinogens

Occupational exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium may be linked to the high frequency of cases of aggressive bladder cancer which occur in the Yorkshire area. This project found that cadmium exposed bladder cells accumulate changes on proteins which package DNA and have reduced expression of genes which protect against cancer development. They also identified changes in DNA which could be used to test for cadmium exposure.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor James Catto
  • Academic Urology Unit and Molecular Oncology, Sheffield
  • Award amount: £201,011
  • October 2011 – September 2015

 

 

Cancer ResearchMolecular and epigenetic mechanisms of heavy metal toxicity in urothelial carcinogenesis

Clinical studies show that Yorkshire has a high incidence of aggressive bladder cancer. It is thought this may be due to the amount of industry in the area, resulting in occupation-based exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium. By studying human bladder cells in the lab, this project identified a type protein called metallothioneins which indicate that cadmium exposure has occurred. This may prove useful for identifying individuals ‘at risk’ of developing bladder cancer, as well as helping to identify those cancers caused by cadmium for targeted treatment.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor Jennifer Southgate
  • University of York
  • Award amount: £53,039
  • October 2012 – September 2015

 

 

Cancer ResearchExploitation of novel reagents against FGFR3 to develop new diagnostic biosensor technologies for superficial bladder tumours

Superficial (early) bladder tumours are treated by surgical removal, but they often recur. Dr Beales and his team have identified chemicals which bind to a molecular marker called FGFR3 which is found in these tumours, and will use them to develop new tools for cancer diagnosis. Eventually they aim to produce a sensor which will analyse patients’ urine, allowing for rapid and non-invasive screening and monitoring.

 

  • Principal investigator: Dr Paul Beales
  • University of Leeds
  • Award amount: £95,873
  • July 2014 – May 2016

 

 

Cancer ResearchFunctional characterisation of novel somatic PIK3R1 (p85a) mutations

When selecting the best treatment for a cancer patient, knowledge of the mutations involved in their tumour can be vital. Many bladder cancers carry mutations which affect a cell signalling pathway called the PI3K pathway. Professor Knowles and team have identified a protein called p85 that, when mutated in bladder cancer, affects the PI3K pathway. By studying how each mutation influences p85, they aim to improve knowledge of how different tumours behave and grow. The information will also be useful to determine the best treatments to use.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor Margaret Knowles
  • University of Leeds
  • Award amount: £175,015
  • April 2011 – July 2016

 

 

Cancer ResearchThe role of ETV1 and ETV5 as effectors of FGF signalling in bladder cancer

FGFRs are a type of proteins which are often altered in bladder cancers. Two other proteins, ETV1 and ETV5, are thought to reduce the harmful effects FGFRs cause. This project aims to investigate how ETV1 and ETV5 affect bladder cancers as they develop and progress, and to investigate potential targets for new drugs. Dr Di Martino and the team will also test whether the levels of these proteins in tumours could help to identify patients whose tumours are more likely to recur or who might benefit from targeted therapies.

 

  • Principal investigator: Dr Erica di Martino
  • University of Leeds
  • Award amount: £191,792
  • July 2012 – December 2016

 

 

Cancer ResearchSynthetic lethal screen to identify novel kinase targets in invasive bladder cancers

Recent studies have identified a group of proteins called kinases as potential targets for new bladder cancer treatments. This study will identify kinases which are important in aggressive bladder cancers. By using a new drug discovery platform developed at Leeds and Oxford the team will begin the development of drugs to target these kinases, with the eventual goal of creating more effective treatments.

 

  • Principal investigator: Dr Darren Tomlinson
  • University of Leeds
  • Award amount: £209,920
  • January 2014 – December 2016

 

 

Cancer ResearchMechanisms of Resistance to Targeted Therapy in Urothelial Cancer

Bladder cancers are sensitive to therapy using drugs which target molecules called FGF receptors. However, evidence from clinical trials show that the cancer often becomes resistant to this treatment, leading to relapse. This study aims to determine how this resistance develops and seeks to identify drug combinations that can avoid this.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor Margaret Knowles
  • Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology
  • Award amount: £69,480
  • October 2014 – September 2017

 

 

Cancer ResearchBladder cancer patient recruitment and engagement

This project will appoint a research nurse to seek consent from bladder cancer patients for participation in clinical trials and for collection of tissue samples. This will ensure more patients have access to relevant clinical trials, and provide more samples to further research into bladder cancer. The nurse will also work to improve patient awareness of research, provide better education on their disease and care, and potentially to develop a local patient support group.

 

  • Principal investigator: Mr Sunjay Jain and Professor Margaret Knowles
  • St James’s University Hospital
  • Award amount: £136,045
  • September 2015 – September 2018

 

 

Cancer ResearchBRAVO: High grade Bladder cancer: A randomised controlled trial of Radical Cystectomy against intra-vesical immunotherapy – A feasibility study

Yorkshire has the worst bladder cancer outcomes in the UK. To try and address this inequality, Professor James Catto and team are undertaking a clinical trial comparing the two main treatment methods for aggressive bladder cancer. This will allow bladder cancer patients to make the best informed choices about their treatment options, improving their quality of life. This project also aims to foster connections between bladder surgeons across Yorkshire, promoting the best standards of care.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor James Catto
  • University of Sheffield
  • Award amount: £378,263
  • October 2015 – September 2018

 

 

Cancer ResearchBladder Cancer Genomics Programme

Bladder cancer is more common in Yorkshire than in the rest of the UK, and often recurs after surgery, requiring long-term treatment. There is a need for new types of treatment, especially those that are tailored to the individual’s tumour. It is also not currently possible to predict how bladder tumours will respond to treatment. This programme will examine the genome of bladder tumours to identify key genes and features that can predict how the disease will progress, guide clinicians in treatment decisions and suggest new approaches to treatment.

 

  • Principal investigator: Prof Margaret Knowles, Dr Jo-An Roulson and Mr Sunjay Jain
  • University of Leeds and St James’s University Hospital
  • Award amount: £1,412,040
  • January 2014 – December 2018

 

 

Cancer ResearchThe Yorkshire Cancer Research Bladder Cancer Patient Reported Outcomes Survey

Occupational exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium may be linked to the high frequency of cases of aggressive bladder cancer which occur in the Yorkshire area. This project found that cadmium exposed bladder cells accumulate changes on proteins which package DNA and have reduced expression of genes which protect against cancer development. They also identified changes in DNA which could be used to test for cadmium exposure.

 

  • Principal investigator: Professor James Catto
  • University of Sheffield
  • Award amount: £352,606
  • May 2016 – April 2019

 

 

 
Cancer Types Icon
Information for researchers
Cancer Types Icon
Cancer Research Funded