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Cancer Research UK launches visionary new lung cancer centre of excellence

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by Cancer Research UK | News

1 July 2014

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Cancer Research UK is bringing together leading researchers from London and Manchester in the groundbreaking new Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence at Manchester and UCL*.

The new Centre is a key component of Cancer Research UK’s renewed focus to beat lung cancer. The disease is the second most common cancer in the UK and the biggest cancer killer.

Developing better treatments for patients with lung cancer has lagged behind other cancers, with little improvement seen over time due to its complex biology, resulting in poor survival rates.

The Centre of Excellence will unite the strengths of the individual research hubs into one new research entity with a single strategy for advancing progress in lung cancer. The Centre will build on existing strengths and seek to recruit a cadre of  international scientists, making the UK a true global research leader in this very important disease.

Several areas of research strength are unique to each site but complement each other.

Scientists in London are leading research into harnessing the immune system to fight the disease. They also perform world class research investigating the complex genetics of lung cancers – understanding how they can be genetically different within the same tumour and between different people, and change during the course of the disease.

This will combine with expertise in Manchester, including researchers at the University of ManchesterThe Christie and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, in radiotherapy, discovering new cancer drugs and uncovering biomarkers, which circulate in the blood stream and can be used to monitor a patient’s disease.  Both sites have strong reputations for lung cancer clinical trials and the new Centre will also build critical mass in the early detection of lung cancer.

Collaboration is the key to the success of the Centre, which will enable researchers who do not normally work together to exchange ideas and information more easily.

The Centre will recruit and train the next generation of clinical and non-clinical lung cancer researchers. Studentships and fellowships will help to develop junior scientists – harnessing new skills and approaches that can be learned and adopted by all researchers.

By drawing together world class research and medical expertise, lung cancer patients nationwide will benefit. The Centre will foster strong links with the local community, increasing awareness of the world-class cancer research taking place right on their doorstep.

There are also substantial benefits that will come from researchers being able to work with a greater number of patients across the two cities – access to a larger amount of tissue samples stored at each site as well as the ability to conduct larger, more complex clinical trials.

Creating this new focal point for lung cancer research will help recruit global leaders in this field of research, adding further strength to the UK’s reputation for world class research.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “For too long lung cancer research has suffered from slow progress, meaning that lung cancer patients have not seen the same impact from research that other cancers have. We’re determined to change this.

“Manchester and London each have their own research strengths. By uniting them, we’re building a new force against the disease. This new Centre of Excellence will speed up the pace of research, unlocking lung cancer’s secrets and offering hope to the many thousands of people diagnosed with the disease every year.”

Professor Caroline Dive, Manchester lead from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute based at The University of Manchester, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as Cancer Research UK’s first Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence. By establishing the Centre jointly at Manchester and UCL, we are bringing together internationally renowned expertise across the full spectrum of lung cancer research.”

Professor Charles Swanton, UCL lead, said: “Through improved knowledge of lung cancer genetics, biology and tumour adaptation, we will support advances in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of lung cancer – with the goal of improving outcomes for lung cancer patients.” 


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