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Cancer Research UK launches groundbreaking research centre in Cambridge

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by Cancer Research UK | News

3 February 2010

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The launch of a centre today (Wednesday) puts Cambridge at the forefront of cancer research, bringing benefits to patients in the South East.

The Cambridge Cancer Centre is a major new research collaboration which exists though a unique partnership between Cancer Research UK, Cambridge University, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridge University Health Partners.

The Centre will be funded by Cancer Research UK to the tune of £2 million a year and is the latest in a specialist network of similar initiatives across the UK.

It will bring together leading UK researchers and set the pace for national and international progress in the diagnosis and treatment of a whole spectrum of different cancers, in particular breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal, blood and prostate cancers.

The Centre will concentrate on understanding the basic biology of how and why cancers develop so new drugs can be designed. It will also focus on developing new ways to detect cancer though cutting-edge imaging techniques. And another priority will be the development of personalised medicine to tailor therapies to individual cancer patient’s needs – reducing side effects and improving survival.

Collaboration will be the key to the Centre’s success, making it easier for researchers in the laboratory to work alongside doctors treating patients on the ward. This enables patients to benefit as soon as possible from research breakthroughs.

Professor Sir Bruce Ponder, director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, said: “This Centre will group a wide variety of exceptional scientists and doctors under one umbrella to find the most effective ways to detect, treat and prevent cancer.

“Closer collaboration means we can make quicker progress towards development of new drugs and more personalised treatments for patients in the South East and the rest of the UK.”

Sue Davies, 72, from Chrishall near Royston, a retired domestic appliance demonstrator, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2008, after visiting the doctor with persistant indigestion.

She is being treated for advanced ovarian cancer at Addenbrookes Hospital and is taking part in a study funded by Cancer Research UK. The study aims to explore new ways of tailoring treatment to patients with ovarian cancer using new MRI-based scanning techniques to monitor how the cancer is responding to treatment at different stages. Tissue samples taken before, during and after chemotherapy are also helping scientists understand the genes responsible for resistance to treatment so that new drugs can be developed in future.

“The treatment I’ve received has been second to none so it’s great news that this investment will help more people like me in the future,” said Sue, who has one daughter and one grandson. “Cambridge is already an excellent centre for cancer patients because of it’s involvement in research and its highly trained clinicians so it’s marvelous to think that it will now be even better.”

Professor David Neal, Cancer Research UK prostate specialist, said: “Cambridge hosts world-class researchers working closely to speed up the gap between making scientific discoveries and turning them into therapies.

“One important research focus is to identify the genes that put people at greater risk of cancer so we can find ways to detect cancer and prevent it. The formation of this centre of excellence will help expand this work and take a step nearer to our overall goal of improving survival.”

Cancer Research UK has already launched Centres in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Southampton, and at London’s UCL – with plans to launch up to 20 centres around the UK.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Funding these centres of excellence is one of the charity’s priorities and will enable us to work towards the goals we have set to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients across all types of cancer.

“We continue to welcome the generous donations we receive from the public to ensure we can continue to build on what we have started today.”