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Congratulations to Dr Sandy Figiel and Mr George Adigbli for winning first and second prizes respectively for their poster presentations – out of 53 entries – at the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Oxford Centre 2023 Annual Symposium on Thursday 16 March.

Dr Sandy Figiel and Mr George Adigbli

Taking place this year at the Saïd Business School, the symposium is a celebration of the passion and commitment to cancer research that exists across the Oxford Cancer Network.

Dr Sandy Figiel is a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Oxford Prostate Cancer Biology Group at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS). The title of her winning poster was ‘Spatial transcriptomic analysis of virtual prostate biopsy reveals confounding effect of heterogeneity on genomic signature scoring’.

Prostate cancers are very variable, including within a single tumour. Current genetic scoring systems, which are sometimes used to make decisions for how to treat patients with prostate cancer, are based on sampling methods which do not reflect these variations. We found, using state-of-the-art spatial genetic technology to simulate accurate assessment of variation in biopsies, that the current approaches miss important details which could negatively impact clinical decisions.

Dr Figiel commented: ‘Winning this prize is not only an achievement, it is a validation and recognition of all the work done. It also increases the visibility of our work and opens doors to new perspectives/collaborations. This award is a powerful motivation to pursue new avenues of research to better understand the progression of prostate cancer.’

Mr George Adigbli is an Academic Clinical Fellow in Plastic Surgery within the Translational Research Immunology Group at NDS. His poster entitled ‘Teaching Old Markers New Tricks: Repurposing Tumour Infiltrating Lymphocytes for Improved Prediction of Low Risk in Melanoma’ explored the relationship between Tumour Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs), Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) results, and melanoma recurrence. In a two-centre retrospective cohort study they analysed pathology reports of 1,895 melanoma patients who underwent SLNB between 2004 and 2017 and found that in patients with absent TILs and a negative SLNB result the five-year recurrence-free survival rate was 93%. 

The findings suggest that TILs may be a valuable prognostic biomarker in predicting melanoma recurrence for patients with negative SLNB results, potentially helping identify lower-risk patients who may safely avoid adverse effects from early adjuvant immunotherapy. Further studies are needed to validate these findings and explore the clinical implications of incorporating TIL assessment into personalised treatment strategies

Mr Adigbli said: ‘These findings could represent an important step forward in understanding how to better predict and treat this aggressive form of skin cancer.’

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