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Harnessing gut microbiome to predict response to radiotherapy in rectal cancer

By Dr Rachel Purcell

The over-arching aim of this project is to understand how differences in the microbiome relate to radiotherapy response in the treatment of rectal cancer, and how we can harness this knowledge to develop predictive biomarkers of treatment response.

Dr Rachel Purcell, University of Otago

How will it help people affected by cancer?

Being able to predict response to radiotherapy will identify people who won’t respond well to radiotherapy. This will mean that they could proceed directly for surgery, avoiding treatment delays and the side-effects associated with radiotherapy. It will also identify people who may respond well to radiotherapy and benefit from a “watch and wait” approach, thereby avoiding surgery.