University of Birmingham set to receive £11m for pioneering cancer research

Scientists at the University of Birmingham are set to receive a major cash boost for pioneering research into cancer.

Scientists at the University of Birmingham are set to receive a major cash boost for pioneering research into cancer.   

Cancer Research UK is planning to invest nearly £11m over the next five years in ground-breaking work being carried out by the University of Birmingham-based Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU). The grant will allow doctors and scientists to continue researching and testing better and kinder treatments for patients.

The Birmingham CRCTU gives both adults and children with cancer access to innovative treatments and enables them to benefit from the latest discoveries. It has an expert team of over 200 cancer researchers working across a wide range of cancers, including breast, lung, skin, sarcoma, blood cancers and head and neck cancers as well as a unique team for childhood cancer trials.

The Children’s Cancer Trials Team is the only one of its kind in the UK, putting Birmingham at the forefront of childhood cancer research. The team coordinates ground-breaking clinical trials across the UK and internationally. Every year, around 31,300 people are diagnosed with cancer in the West Midlands.

Cancer Research UK’s CTUs specialise in the design, delivery and analysis of trials that bring the latest scientific developments to patients all over the UK. They are a vital part of the charity’s research network, helping shape the clinical research landscape in the UK and internationally.

Professor Pamela Kearns, Director of the University of Birmingham-based CRCTU unit and Cancer Research UK’s children’s cancer expert, said: “We are very proud that Birmingham has been awarded this important funding. Our clinical research enables us to translate discoveries from the lab and accelerate the improvement of cancer treatments, giving more patients the best chance of beating their disease. 

“As a paediatric oncologist, I am particularly pleased this funding will allow us to continue to build on our programme of clinical trials to improve the care of children with cancer. For example, within my team, with support from Cancer Research UK, we run the International BEACON trial, testing new combinations of therapies for children and young people with a type of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma, at a stage where they have failed to respond well to standard treatments.

“One question this trial is trying to answer is whether a drug called bevacizumab can help treat their neuroblastoma. Bevacizumab is a type of biological therapy called a monoclonal antibody that targets the tumour’s blood supply. Doctors already treat adult cancers with this drug and we want to see if it works for children with neuroblastoma.”

The latest funding announcement follows a major review by the charity of all its Cancer Research UK CTUs. This has resulted in £45million being invested into eight units across the UK, one of the charity’s largest investments in clinical research to date. The review was conducted by an international panel of experts and the competition was fierce. 

The Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit

The Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU) is one of the largest cancer trials units in the UK and specialises in the design, conduct and analysis of phase I to III cancer clinical trials. The CRCTU is UKCRC registered and is a member of the NCRI Cancer CTU Group.

It gives both adults and children with cancer access to innovative treatments and enables them to benefit from the latest discoveries. It has an expert team of over 200 researchers working across a wide range of cancers in adults, including breast, lung, skin, sarcoma, blood cancers and head and neck cancers.

Its Children’s Cancer Trials Team is the only one of its kind in the UK, putting Birmingham at the forefront of childhood cancer research and today’s announcement comes as the world marks International Childhood Cancer Day.

The team coordinates ground-breaking clinical trials across the UK and internationally, as well as regionally through Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) – a strategic alliance between the University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

 

Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Birmingham, said: “This crucial investment recognises the fantastic research taking place in Birmingham. It ensures researchers can take full advantage of our most promising scientific discoveries and translate them into new tests and treatments for patients.

“One-in-two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives - so it’s reassuring to know that, thanks to our supporters, Cancer Research UK is able to fund some of the best and most promising research here in Birmingham, to help more people survive.

“There are so many ways to support Cancer Research UK’s lifesaving work, from signing up to Walk All Over Cancer in March to entering one of the many Race for Life events in the West Midlands; or giving time to volunteer in our shops.

“Survival has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress – but every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

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