Improve early cancer detection through artificial tumor breeding

Improve early cancer detection through artificial tumor breeding

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Multi-million project: radical new cancer diagnoses

An international alliance of renowned cancer research institutions recently joined forces to develop completely new strategies and technologies aimed at detecting cancer at the earliest possible stage. In a first project, the researchers want to grow tumors in artificial human tissue in order to better understand the development of cancer.

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a new partnership between Cancer Research UK, Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, University College London and the University of Manchester. Together, the institutes want to become the most important institution in the early detection of cancer worldwide. Over 60 million euros of research funding will be available for this over the next five years.

Early detection as the most important goal in the fight against cancer

Statistics show that the most significant improvement in cancer survival can be achieved by detecting cancer as early as possible. As the researchers report, for example, 99 percent of breast cancer patients survive their disease for more than five years if they are diagnosed early. However, if breast cancer is detected too late, the chances of survival are only 27 percent. If lung cancer is detected at an early stage, the chance of survival increases to 56 percent. In the most advanced stage, the chance is only five percent.

New ways of diagnosing cancer

Since the early detection of cancer is extremely difficult and complex, the international association now wants to break new ground in order to develop more effective methods of diagnosis. There are no suitable screening tools for many types of cancer and new technologies for cancer detection are developing too slowly. The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) now wants to change this.

The breeding of artificial tumors

In one of the first ACED projects, artificial tumors are to be cultivated in order to better understand the development of cancer. A team from Manchester is developing new biological models to determine how healthy breast tissue becomes cancerous. To this end, the researchers want tumors to grow in human tissue artificially grown in the laboratory. The hope is that this work could help reduce overdiagnosis in people at low risk of breast cancer by identifying which changes in breast screening indicate cancer and which do not.

Overcoming barriers together

With the association of the renowned institutes, the researchers want to overcome obstacles that often cause individual institutions to fail. These include, for example, funding options and a lack of cooperation, which often makes research projects too small and non-binding. By combining the forces, the ACED wants to accelerate breakthroughs and convert them to a faster benefit for those affected.

Ambitious projects

In addition to the worldwide first breeding of tumors, the ACED is concerned with

  • the development of new improved imaging methods,
  • Robotics to detect early tumors,
  • the influence of a tumor on the surrounding tissue,
  • the development of new diagnostic methods such as blood, breath and urine tests,
  • early stress signals sent by tumors or damaged tissue as a new indication for cancer,
  • integrating artificial intelligence to detect signs of cancer that are undetectable to humans.


Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • The University of Manchester: Multimillion pound boost for Manchester scientists to detect cancer earlier (accessed: October 22, 2019),
  • Cancer Research UK: International alliance sets bold research ambition to detect the (almost) undetectable (accessed: October 22, 2019),

Video: AI Technology to Detect Lung Cancer Early. Jenifer Marks, MD (October 2022).