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Cancer Research UK launches groundbreaking research centre in Oxford

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by Cancer Research UK | News

15 March 2011

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A new centre launched today (Tuesday) will cement Oxford’s place at the forefront of cancer research, and form one of the final links in a unique chain of Cancer Research UK Centres across the country.

These new cancer centres will pull together world class laboratory research with medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients nationwide.

The Oxford Cancer Research Centre is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, the University of Oxford and the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust.

It will help set the pace for national and international progress in the understanding and treatment of a variety of cancers, including breast, skin, urological and gastrointestinal.

Collaboration will be the key to the success of the centre, as it will bring together and build on Oxford’s existing world-class research in many areas of cancer medicine, from identifying the causes of cancer to improving diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

The centre will carry out research on the molecular basis of cancer, as well as work on understanding the genetic and lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of cancer.

Other research strengths will include new methods for improving cancer diagnosis, and finding new ‘biomarkers’ to predict the effect drugs have on patients.

The latest developments in radiotherapy and surgery will be brought together with clinical trials of new drugs, providing the best evidence to guide the treatment of cancer.

Professor Gillies McKenna, director of the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology, and head of the Department of Oncology said: “With 2011 designated as the Year of Radiotherapy, there is increased recognition that greater access to this treatment is vital to improving cancer survival.

“Cancer Research UK has long been committed to improving radiotherapy through research, by supporting the Gray Institute in Oxford. The Institute has the world’s largest group of clinicians and scientists working in radiation oncology, and the Oxford Cancer Research Centre will help provide the vital infrastructure to help translate these discoveries into benefits for patients.”

Michael Kinane, 70, from Bicester, was diagnosed in September 2010 with bowel cancer which had spread to the liver.

He began his treatment with radiotherapy for the bowel tumour to relieve symptoms. He then received another form of radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy to treat the spread of cancer to his liver.

He is being treated at the Oxford Cancer Research Centre, in one of the clinical trials developed by the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology at the University of Oxford and supported by the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.

The trial – known as FOXFIRE – is testing a new treatment called radio-embolisation, a form of internal radiotherapy that uses the tumour’s blood supply to target multiple sites of disease within the liver.

Radiotherapy is already a well-established treatment in bowel cancer. This new way of administering high-dose radiation therapy directly into the blood supply of the cancer could be even more effective at treating bowel cancer which has spread to the liver, when combined with chemotherapy.

“Being part of the trial has been amazingly simple and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity of being given another treatment,” said Michael. “I hope that taking part in this trial will help more people like me in the future. I’ve been lucky to benefit from the excellent research which already takes place in Oxford and it’s good to know that this will become even better with the new Centre.”

Sir Jonathan Michael, chief executive of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is an exciting development for our cancer patients. Patients will benefit from the close working relationship between the Trust and the University. We want to ensure that research is translated into treatment for patients in order to prolong and improve their quality of life.”

The Oxford Cancer Research Centre is the 16th Cancer Research UK-funded centre and will be funded by Cancer Research UK to the tune of £2.8 million in the first year.

Professor Alastair Buchan, head of the medical science division at the University of Oxford, said: “The University of Oxford is delighted to join the Cancer Research UK Centre’s Initiative. The Centre will help bring together the extensive community of outstanding cancer researchers in Oxford, acting as a nucleus for researchers, doctors and patients to engage with each other. It will ensure optimal translation of fundamental research into patient benefit, and will train the next generation of world-leaders in cancer detection, treatment and prevention.”

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.”


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.