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International Bladder Cancer Network (IBCN) 2022

14 Oct 2022

Research is a collective effort, and it is often the case that different research groups work on various aspects of the same problem. International conferences bring together everyone around the globe working on a problem, provide an environment to discuss ideas, and ultimately push research forward.

Three scientists from the York Against Cancer funded Jack Birch Unit (JBU) at the University of York recently attended the International Bladder Cancer Network (IBCN). The aim of the conference was to gather both university researchers and medical professionals to advance their understanding of bladder cancer. This was the 25th edition of IBCN and held in Barcelona. There was no better place for this occasion given the IBCN’s rich history with the city. The conference was hosted at the Sant Pau hospital (see below), which is a gorgeous building in the style of Art Nouveau with a Catalan twist.

Bladder cancer research can be seen as a jigsaw and the conference is an environment which facilitates finding the connections between different pieces of the puzzle. York Against Cancer Research Fellow Dr Andrew Mason presented (see below) his work in the first session of the conference and generated a lot of interest as he gave a fresh and holistic view of how bladder cancer treatment needs to be more personalised. Dr Mason talked about the relationship between bladder cancers and tumours higher up the urinary tract, near the kidney. In a previous blog post, he talked about how 10% of diagnosed bladder cancers from one of the largest international cohorts actually originated from the upper urinary tract, impacting patient care.

Ryan Ellison, a PhD student funded by York Against Cancer, presented his poster on the role of FGFR3 which is a gene frequently mutated in bladder cancer. His research plays a vital role in understanding the difference between readily treatable and more aggressive tumours, as well as tumours more likely to recur. This topic was one of the main research questions at IBCN, putting Ryan at the centre of the conversation (see picture).

Another JBU PhD student, Vlad Ungureanu, presented his poster on trying to identify subtypes of bladder cancer where patients could be given more personalised treatment.

The key result in Vlad’s work was that the most aggressive tumours can be divided based on how well the patient’s immune system responded, with the best responders having the best outcomes. These results aligned perfectly with a separate JBU study led by Dr Simon Baker. Together these suggest that if we can use treatments which boost a patient’s immune response to a cancer, we can improve their chance of beating it.

Vlad Ungureanu, presenting his poster.

The research in the York Against Cancer funded lab was at the heart of several discussion at the International Bladder Cancer Network conference. This showed how cutting-edge and relevant the work conducted by Jack Birch Unit is for the bladder cancer community. The hard work and passion poured by the JBU and other IBCN members picture an optimistic future for solving the bladder cancer.