“FORCE, Imaging the force of cancer”, is a large-scale Horizon 2020 project, funded by the European Union, whose aim is to address a fundamental need in planning and monitoring of cancer treatment by measuring the forces active in cancer.
The forces on a primary cancer tumour – such as tumour Interstitial Fluid Pressure (IFP) and Cell Traction Force (CTF) at the tumour border zone – are thought to be key indicators of whether cancer therapy is working as well as the likelihood of the cancer spreading to other organs. However, being able to measure these forces non-invasively is currently not possible but is paramount for therapy planning and evaluating treatment efficacy. While the treatment of primary tumour sites is vital, gauging the metastatic potential for cancer spread is increasingly important for ensuring appropriate therapy is given.
The FORCE project will tackle these needs by integrating fundamental developments in engineering and Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging to develop Magnetic Resonance Force (MRF) Imaging – a novel non-invasive modality for directly measuring Interstitial Fluid Pressure and cell traction forces.
The project will not only give a better insight of cancer forces but will also examine the efficacy of actively manipulating the cancer environment. Developments of the FORCE project will, for the first time, enable the measurement and manipulation of cancer forces in vivo; providing a new paradigm for predicting metastatic potential, gauging the efficacy of drug delivery for cancer therapy, and clinically observing therapy progression through imaging.
“Interstitial Fluid Pressure is the Holy Grail of oncology,” says Professor Ralph Sinkus, Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Using imaging, we will for the first time be able to measure these forces, opening new avenues for cancer therapy”.
King’s will lead a consortium of several partners and collaborators across Europe and beyond.