A UNIVERSITY is set to work on a £10m research project exploring new ways to diagnose lung cancer.

The Universities of both Southampton and Leeds have come together with healthcare, diagnostics and informatics companies to test the best way of detecting cancers at a stage when they can still be cured, linking to the NHS England Targeted Lung Health Checks programme.

The project, called iDx-LUNG, is part of the Government’s Early Diagnosis Mission to diagnose three-quarters of cancers at an early stage by 2028.

Work is able to proceed thanks to approximately £3.5m worth of funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), part of a total investment of £10 million in the programme overall.

Peter Johnson, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Southampton, who is leading the project, said: We urgently need to find ways to detect lung cancer early, to drive up people's chances of a cure.

"This unique collaborative effort between universities, the NHS and companies with ground-breaking technologies is aimed at doing just that.”

Lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer death worldwide with 25,000 people diagnosed with advanced, inoperable lung cancer every year in the UK.

As well as targeting increased survival rates, the project also aims to improve the efficiency of testing in people at high risk of cancer.

This project, which is coordinated by the Cancer Research UK/NIHR Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, will ask 15,000 people who attend NHS England lung health checks at mobile CT scanners in Hampshire and Yorkshire to give blood samples and nasal swabs for testing.

The samples will then be analysed for changes that could indicate early cancer development.

MP for Southampton Itchen, Royston Smith said the partnership with Leeds at the forefront of research into cancer is really good news.

"We've seen just recently how successful Southampton has been at trialling saliva tests and other processes during the pandemic." he said.

"It's another vote of confidence in Southampton's ability to find the answers in some of those most difficult questions.

"They are one of the greatest research universities in the country if not the world and we in Southampton are very proud of them and very happy and pleased to have them."