#UK Cambridge shares in £226m Cancer Research boom

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Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

Cambridge is set to benefit from a £226 million investment by Cancer Research UK – its largest to date – in its network of centres.

The funding boom is designed to help Cancer Research UK reach its goal of three in four people surviving their cancers by 2035.

A total of £190 million has been committed to 13 Cancer Research UK Centres over the next five years, including Cambridge.

With Departments of Health, the organisation is pumping a further £36 million over the same timespan into 18 Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) for adult patients and a network of centres for children. Again Cambridge is among these.

The huge investment will draw together world-class research and medical expertise to accelerate advances in research and support clinical trials essential to getting lifesaving treatments to patients.

Cancer Research UK Centres bring together research teams from local universities, NHS hospitals and other research organisations. They operate as a network that focuses on translational research – getting cutting edge discoveries from the laboratory to patients and learning as much as possible from patients to initiate new research ideas and programmes.

The ECMCs aim to bring better treatments faster to cancer patients in the UK through both the adult and children’s network of Centres. They are hubs where promising cancer treatments – including small molecule drugs, surgery, immunotherapy, and vaccines – are safely tested for the first time in patients. 

These centres help give people with cancer access to cutting-edge treatments and precision medicine by testing new ways of detecting and monitoring the disease and how it responds to treatment.

The capital injection will also help train the next generation of cancer researchers by funding PhD students and cancer doctors at the start of a research career and providing specialist training for ECMC staff involved in the development and delivery of clinical trials.

Centre status is awarded to locations performing the highest quality cancer research and investment is made into infrastructure, funding for technical staff, equipment, training and running costs, developing the breadth and depth of research at each of these centres.

The applications are reviewed by an international panel of experts to make sure that only the best science is funded.

Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of strategy and research funding at Cancer Research UK, said: “This is the largest investment we have ever made into the centres and we are incredibly proud of that. 

“It’s also the first time we have co-funded the paediatric ECMC network with the National Institute for Health Research and the Chief Scientist Office, Scotland, which will help boost research to develop smarter, kinder treatments for children.

“This money provides vital infrastructure for bench to bedside research. By strengthening the relationship between scientists and doctors, basic research guides clinical practice as effectively as possible.

“This is particularly important for hard to treat cancers like pancreatic, oesophageal, lung and brain tumours. By combining expertise and different disciplines, we hope to ignite much needed momentum into research for these cancers.

“The funding is also an investment in the next generation of scientists. We are creating opportunities for PhD students and ensuring that the brightest scientists are attracted and supported in their career in cancer research.”

Cancer Research UK’s projections are that we will reach more than 500,000 new diagnoses of cancer a year in the UK by 2035. By that time, the organisation’s goal is that three in four people will survive their cancer. 

• PHOTOGRAPH: Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, one of the partner organisations in the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre

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