The £3 million Tumour Profiling Unit (TPU) in London is to research the use of DNA mapping to identify patients' cancer strains. It is hoped the technique will pave the way for radical new forms of diagnosis, surveillance and targeted therapy.
One aim of the research is to develop "liquid biopsies" that search for free-floating cancer DNA in samples of blood. This can then be used to identify and monitor cancer sub-types that are likely to respond to particular drugs.
Another, controversial, proposal is the use of "mouse avatars" that mirror a patient's disease progression.
Tumour samples from patients will be implanted into mice which will then be observed closely to spot early signs of molecular change and resistance to therapy.