29 Feb 2016   |   Network Updates

King's College London kicks-off cancer imaging project

The Horizon 2020 FORCE project aims to address a fundamental need in planning and monitoring of cancer treatment by measuring the forces active in cancer.

“FORCE, imaging the Force of Cancer”, is the recent large-scale Horizon2020 project awarded to the Division of Imaging Sciences & Biomedical Engienering. This is a 4 year project led by Professor Ralph Sinkus, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

It is the first time that King’s has led on a Horizon2020 collaborative project.

The forces on a primary cancer tumour – such as tumour interstitial fluid pressure and cell traction force 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. Moreover, 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.

MRF will thus provide a picture of the forces active within tumour: using biomechanical principles, we will develop biomarkers whose effectiveness will be systematically assessed during the FORCE project, examining their ability to predict therapy outcomes and metastatic potential.

The development of MRF will be realised in close consultation with the clinic, in order to assure that the method fits into clinical routine and that developed MRF hardware is easy to use and safe for the patient.

The FORCE 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 and these include:

  • King’s College Hospital, UK
  • Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  • Institute of Cancer Research - Royal Cancer Hospital, UK
  • Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich, Switzerland
  • Charite, Germany
  • Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, France
  • Assistance Publique - Hopitaux de Paris, France
  • Universitat Basel, Switzerland
  • Universitetet i Oslo, Norway
  • Universitaet Leipzig, Germany
  • University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital, United States


  • ScreenCell, France
  • Iva Cermakova, CGC, Germany
  • Integrated Technologies Limited, UK

Global Industrial Players

  • Philips, Netherlands
  • Siemens, Germany & USA
  • Sanofi Aventis, France

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