Dr Anna Minchom

Dr Anna Minchom is a Team Leader at The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Her work in developing new drug treatments for patients with lung cancer and other cancers of the chest has been supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden and the ICR.

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Dr Anna Minchom

What do your roles involve?

As a medical oncologist, I specialise in treating patients with lung and thoracic cancers (cancers that occur in the chest cavity), such as mesothelioma (a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of lung).

Additionally, I am a clinical researcher, and I run clinical trials for new drug treatments. Many of these trials are “Phase I” trials (the earliest drug trials run in patients) and aim to assess the correct dose and the safety of a new drug.

I work in the Lung Unit and the Drug Development Unit at The Royal Marsden, meaning I can treat patients with drug treatments already available on the NHS and help to develop the next generation of drug treatments.

How has the BRC supported your work?

The BRC provides funding for my clinical research role. The BRC has also supported me in running some smaller projects that are essential for developing ideas for clinical trials.

Cancer research is complicated, and to get the best results it is vital to work with other investigators from different specialities. The BRC has provided me with numerous opportunities to work collaboratively with other BRC researchers.

What research studies are you currently involved in?

I am currently running several different cancer drug trials. These trials include chemotherapies, immunotherapies and other types of targeted treatments.

Developing new targeted therapies for certain types of lung cancer, such as lung cancers with specific changes in the cancer DNA like epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or MET mutations, has been a particularly exciting area of research for me.

Another growing area of lung cancer research I am working in is the development of newer immunotherapy drugs or combinations of immunotherapy drugs. I am currently part of the HYPER Trial team, which is investigating if it is beneficial to add guadecitabine, a type of drug which may help the immune system to spot cancer, to an existing immunotherapy treatment known as pembrolizumab. We want to understand if this will help patients for whom pembrolizumab is no longer working.

There is also much important work to be done looking at patients’ symptoms and side effects when participating in a clinical trial. Patient-Related Outcome (PROs) in phase I trials is an area I am interested in; working out how we can better assess a patient’s experience of participating in a Phase I trial.

What does the future hold for cancer research?

We are making significant progress in treating cancers with many new drugs that have been approved for use in recent years. However, not all patient’s cancers respond in the same way to treatment. Therefore, it’s essential to continue making strides towards developing a more “personalised” treatment for each patient depending on the characteristics of their cancer, such as cancer DNA changes, as these can be more beneficial to patients.