Secretary of State for Health and Social Care visits Birmingham to see how cancer research is saving lives

CRUK ambassador Lily Deans (20) with Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Lily, a student at the University of Birmingham, volunteered as a campaigning ambassador for the charity after losing her dad to brain cancer in 2016.

MATT Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, met Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at the University of Birmingham today (Thursday, 23 August) to learn about their life-saving work.

The minister saw first-hand the pioneering research taking place at the Cancer Research UK Centre, particularly in the fields of bowel and lung cancer.

During the visit, Mr Hancock was given a tour of the labs with Dr Andrew Beggs who is heading a £1.5 million research programme aimed at finding new treatments for bowel cancer.

The pioneering research, the first of its kind in the UK, involves scientists taking samples of 200 patients in order to grow bowel cancer avatars – or mini tumours – in the laboratory. The avatars are then exposed to over 2,000 drugs and treatments, some of which have never been previously tested.

Mr Hancock also met researchers at the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit who are investigating a wide range of cancers, including breast, skin, blood cancers and head and neck cancers.

And he visited the Children’s Cancer Trials Team at the University which co-ordinates ground breaking clinical trials at centres around the country, making innovative new treatments available to children with cancer.

Mr Hancock said: “I have been hugely impressed by the incredible work to revolutionise cancer treatment, driven by the partnership between academics, business, charities and the NHS.

“The collaboration between Cancer Research UK and the Birmingham Health Partners demonstrates the critical importance of a shared scientific approach. It promises to be transformative for patients.”

Emma Greenwood, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Cancer Research UK, said she was delighted to have the support of Mr Hancock in highlighting the work of the centre.

She said: “With the NHS plan for the next decade soon to be published, it’s encouraging to see the new Health Secretary visiting today and standing shoulder to shoulder with the NHS workforce.

“For the 85 people diagnosed with cancer every day in the West Midlands, early diagnosis and treatment staff are vital to tackle their cancers sooner and more effectively.

“To face the challenge of a growing and ageing population and achieve outcomes that are amongst best in world for patients, we need fantastic research centres like this one paired with a cancer workforce that’s fit for the future.”

Last year, Cancer Research UK spent over £9 million on pioneering research in the region.

Professor David Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Head of College of Medical and Dental Sciences and Dean of Medicine, Professor of Hepatology and Director of NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Birmingham said: “With our Cancer Research-UK and NHS partners, we are leading some of the most advanced work across the globe to develop and test new cancer treatments, with the ultimate goal of improving survival rates.

“The Secretary of State’s signalled commitment to continue the Government’s support in this crucial research area is welcome. We will continue to build on recent advances in genetics and precision medicine to deliver cutting edge clinical trials that lead to the successful treatment of a range of cancers.”

Ends

For media enquiries please contact: Paula Young, Senior Media Relations officer (Midlands) at Cancer Research UK on: +44 (0)7786 510438
Or
Dominic Benson, Deputy Director of Communications at the University of Birmingham on: +44 (0)121 414 5134

Notes to Editors

*Approximation based on annual average figure of around 31,300 cases of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) diagnosed between 2012-2014 in the West Midlands Region.

About Cancer Research UK’s work in Birmingham

Last year, Cancer Research UK spent over £9 million on research in the West Midlands.

In Birmingham, our research teams work closely with partners at the University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Founded in 2011, Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) drives the development of new diagnostics, drugs and devices by bringing together a renowned University and two leading NHS foundation trusts.

Its unique ecosystem enables the full spectrum of translational medicine: encompassing health data; an established local health system; academic excellence; and an extensive clinical trials capability.

Its key areas of research focus are its four ‘pillars’ – Cancer, Chronic Disease, Health & Wellbeing, and Women’s & Children’s Health. Each pillar is led by an academic, clinical and executive lead drawn from BHP’s member organisations, and represents an area of collective strength: specialisms where Birmingham has a track record in delivering its aims.

Pioneering and life-changing work takes place across a number of leading facilities, including the Institute of Translational Medicine – opened in 2015 to transcend organisational boundaries and simplify collaboration. BHP’s next capital project is Birmingham Life Sciences Park, which will enable productive interactions between clinicians, academics, industry and patients to accelerate the field of personalised, precision medicine and allow new innovations to be brought through to clinical application.

By enabling integrated, multidisciplinary working, BHP helps bring about answers to complex healthcare issues for the direct benefit of people worldwide.

About Cancer Research UK

  • CRUK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • The charity's pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • CRUK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • CRUK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. CRUK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
  • CRUK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit the website.