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Cancer clinical trials to be streamlined to bring new treatments to UK patients sooner

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by Cancer Research UK | News

23 May 2016

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Set up and delivery of UK cancer multi-centre clinical trials will become more efficient and easier to get off the ground, thanks to a new agreement between UK cancer clinical trial centres.

“This initiative will ultimately help potentially life-saving drugs reach cancer patients sooner by accelerating the first step of clinical research.” – Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive

The Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre (ECMC) Collaboration Agreement will improve the network’s ability to carry out early phase clinical cancer trials, boosting research and development in the UK and bringing innovative new treatments to patients sooner.

Clinical trials in the UK often face delays because of the variation in how they are set up in each centre. But under the new agreement all 18 ECMC locations* will do this in the same way and will work to the same standards – cutting paperwork and helping researchers work more collaboratively.

This will help speed up approval of early phase clinical trials, making the UK a more attractive location for international pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. This means UK patients get access to innovative treatments sooner.

The ECMC Network is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK and the four Health Departments of the UK. The centres help the pharmaceutical industry and academic funders develop cancer drugs in early phase clinical trials by bringing together teams of world-leading clinical experts.

Aoife Regan, head of the ECMC Network, said: “It’s essential for the UK to deliver clinical trials more efficiently if it is to build its reputation as a world-leader in early phase clinical research. We already have some of the best early phase clinical trial researchers in the world and this agreement builds on that by setting new standards for the set up and delivery of clinical trials. By getting innovative treatments to cancer patients more quickly, we hope to build our international reputation and increase our ability to attract more companies to the UK.”

George Freeman MP, life sciences minister, said: “Effective clinical trials ensure that patients can benefit from the world-leading medical research taking place across the country. The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network shows how collaborative work between charities and the government is driving forward new cancer discoveries.”

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that our ECMC Network is continuing to help cancer patients around the country benefit from world-leading research taking place here in the UK. This initiative will ultimately help potentially life-saving drugs reach cancer patients sooner by accelerating the first step of clinical research.”


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