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35 million funding boost for experimental cancer medicine

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by Cancer Research UK | News

1 July 2005

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Cancer Research UK has teamed up with the Departments of Health in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to develop and expand a network of Centres for Experimental Cancer Medicine worth £35 million over five years.

The funding will help to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of international efforts to develop new treatments for cancer, built upon outstanding science. It will also help to ensure that treatments are targeted at those patients most likely to benefit.

The initiative will be developed under the umbrella of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) and will be fully coordinated with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration’s (UKCRC) activities in experimental medicine outside cancer.

The network will build on the successful work of the Departments of Health-funded National Translational Cancer Research Network (NTRAC). NTRAC was established in 2002 as part of the National Cancer Plan to help facilitate translational cancer research in the NHS.

Established NTRAC centres will now be encouraged to apply to become Centres for Experimental Cancer Medicine so they may continue and expand their innovative work. In addition, new centres will also be encouraged to apply for funding to help broaden the network. Successful centres can expect to receive funding of between £200,000 and £500,000 per year.

The support will cover infrastructure costs enabling centres to bring together scientific and clinical research, sharing knowledge and resources for the benefit of cancer patients. The funds will underpin the translational work needed to develop new anti-cancer drugs and diagnostics from the laboratory into the clinic and then to test them in early clinical trials.

Harpal Kumar, Chief Operating Officer of Cancer Research UK, says: “Cancer research needs to encompass a wide range of scientists, medical specialists, clinicians, nurses and support staff – people who together form a team capable of accelerating research into new approaches that can benefit patients. This initiative will bolster the infrastructure of these centres, enabling them to position the UK at the international forefront in experimental cancer medicine. We are delighted to be working closely with the Departments of Health on this critical initiative.”

The funding is open to all centres in the UK working in the area of experimental cancer medicine.

Professor Sally Davies, Director of Research and Development for the Department of Health, says: “This initiative brings welcome extra funding into developing cancer treatments for patients, building on the proven success of the NTRAC network. Together with our earlier announcement on funding for experimental medicine, this pledge to boost experimental medicine in cancer underpins our commitment to this important area of research.”

Dr Alison Spaull from the Chief Scientist’s Office at the Scottish Executive says: “Scottish Executive funding of £2.3 million has already contributed to tripling the number of patients involved in cancer clinical trials in Scotland. We are delighted that Cancer Research UK has made this substantial investment to further enhance experimental cancer research medicine and improve patient care.”

Professor John Williams, Director of the Wales Office of Research and Development, Welsh Assembly Government, says: “This initiative will further strengthen the existing infrastructure for experimental cancer research in the UK and will ensure that translational research of ‘bench’ findings into clinical practice can prosper.”

Professor Bob Stout, Director of Research and Development for Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services, says: “Northern Ireland is pleased to be part of this initiative which will continue the effort to improve treatment of cancer.”

Dr Jane Cope, Director of the NCRI, says: “This funding ensures that innovative cancer research in the UK has the support and infrastructure in place to allow it to prosper. Part of this initiative will also include making sure these centres talk to one another, so that best practice and knowledge can be shared.”


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