A state-of-the-art facility devoted to developing experimental cancer treatments is to be built at Cancer Research UK’s Clare Hall Laboratories in Hertfordshire, helping to bring the latest scientific developments to patients’ bedsides.

The purpose-built facility – which will cost a total of £20 million to build and equip – will house Cancer Research UK’s Biotherapeutics Development Unit (BDU), responsible for developing antibodies, gene therapies and cancer vaccines for use in clinical trials.

The facility plays a crucial role in producing new biological therapies, which will be tested in early clinical trials through the charity’s Drug Development Office. If successful, they could one day be used to treat cancer patients, helping turn scientists’ discoveries into potentially life-saving treatments.

Biological therapies are developed from natural substances in the body. They fight cancer by either specifically targeting cancer cells, encouraging the body’s immune system to attack the cancer or by preventing abnormal genes from working.

The new facility, which will house £3.5 million-worth of new equipment and employ 15 staff, will significantly increase the number of biological treatments produced by Cancer Research UK for testing in humans.

Building work has already begun at the site, with the facility scheduled for completion in May 2009.

Gillian Lewis, the head of Cancer Research UK’s Biotherapeutics Development Unit, said: “The new facility is a hugely exciting development for the charity, giving us a building designed specifically for the BDU from the inside out.

“Biotherapeutics really are at the cutting edge in terms of the development of new cancer treatments, and in order to achieve significant advances we need the best facilities. That’s exactly what the new building gives us.”

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive added: “Bridging the gap between the bench and the bedside is especially challenging in the development of biological treatments, with a great deal of work necessary before new treatments can be used in clinical trials.

“Ensuring that patients continue to benefit from the latest research into cancer treatments is crucial for the charity. The new BDU facility a vitally important development in making this happen.”


For media enquiries please contact Louisa Mullan in the Cancer Research UK press office on 0207 061 8317 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264059.


An artist’s impression of the new facility is available for publication.

Cancer Research UK is a European leader in the development of new treatments for cancer.

We have taken over 100 potential new treatments from the lab and into clinical trials in patients. Four of these have reached the market and many more are still at different stages of development.

Visit our patient information website CancerHelp UK for more information on biological therapy.

About the BDU

The BDU is responsible for the manufacture of clinical grade biological products and forms part of Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office. The unit is run to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and has a license issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the manufacture of investigational medicinal products (IMPs).

The BDU has the capability of manufacturing plasmid DNA, monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins. Its development team has extensive experience in the optimisation and scale up of manufacturing protocols and provides the necessary assay development. The Quality Control (QC) department carries out all the required quality control testing to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of the product.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit our homepage.


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