SCIENTISTS in Oxford will benefit from one of the biggest funding grants ever awarded by Cancer Research UK.

Researchers at Oxford University are set to receive almost £1m as part of a £20m investment by the charity in the next five years to fund research into microbiomes.

Microbiomes are microorganisms living in the human body, which some scientists believe could be manipulated to treat bowel cancer.

Cash has been awarded from the charity's Grand Challenge fund, which Oxford scientists made a winning bid for against contenders from across the globe.

The city's researchers are part of a team of scientists from the UK, the USA, Canada, the Netherlands and Spain who will carry out the project.

They were selected by an international panel of experts from a shortlist of 10 multi-disciplinary collaborations from universities, institutes and industry across the globe.

Professor Fiona Powrie, director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Oxford University, said: "By the end of the project, the team aims to revolutionise our understanding of the role the microbiome plays in cancer development, leading to new ways of preventing bowel cancer and new treatment strategies.

"By taking on such an epic challenge, the team also hopes to energise and inspire others working in the field, which will hopefully lead to further innovative approaches to tackling bowel cancer."

Alison Birkett, Cancer Research UK's spokesperson for Oxford, said: "Grand Challenge gives us the perfect opportunity to address complex questions and cross new frontiers in our understanding of cancer, to transform the lives of patients.

"People in Oxford have every right to feel proud of the world-class research taking place on their doorstep and of their fundraising efforts, which are helping to beat cancer."