Manchester set to get around £42 million boost for cancer research

Manchester is set to receive a major cash injection from Cancer Research UK.

The charity plans to invest around £39 million over the next five years into the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre, a partnership between Cancer Research UK, The University of Manchester and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

The grant will fund ground-breaking work as part of the development of a unique chain of cutting-edge research hubs around the UK focusing on translational research.

A further £2.75 million investment is planned for the Manchester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, from Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research.

Funding will also support training of the next generation of cancer researchers - including 45 PhD students – to ensure the brightest scientists are attracted and supported in their career in cancer research.

Selected as a major centre

Professor Nic Jones, Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre, based at The University of Manchester, said: “This funding award is fantastic news for the city and for our Centre and we are especially honoured to be selected as a Major Centre. The award represents a critical investment in the research infrastructure that will equip us with the tools needed to advance the understanding and treatment of cancer.

“This investment will boost efforts to transform treatments through the development of new approaches in personalised medicine.

“Our aim is to transform cancer treatment by optimising the delivery of radiotherapy, and by developing new approaches to treatment where decisions are guided by the specific characteristics of a patient’s tumour. This includes studying and characterising blood samples taken from patients at diagnosis and throughout their journey. We do this to look for markers released from the tumour that can provide key information to help doctors pick the right drug for the right patient.

“We also aim to detect early warning signs of cancer to provide earlier diagnosis, or to give a clear indication if a patient’s cancer has come back after treatment.”

Manchester has been chosen, by an international panel of experts, as one of just 13 locations to secure funding in the latest review of the Cancer Research UK Centres network of excellence and one of two to receive major centre status – the highest award.

These research centres draw together world class research and medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients – getting cutting edge discoveries from the laboratory to patients and learning as much as possible from them to initiate new research ideas and programmes.

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres

Additionally, the panel chose Manchester as one of 18 Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs).

The ECMCs aim to bring better treatments faster to cancer patients in the UK through both the adult and children’s network of Centres. They are hubs where promising cancer treatments - including small molecule drugs, surgery, immunotherapy, and vaccines - are safely tested through clinical trials. These Centres help give people with cancer access to cutting-edge treatments by testing new ways of detecting and monitoring the disease and how it responds to treatment.

Every year, 41,700 of people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West.

Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive at Cancer Research UK, said: “This is an exciting time for cancer research.

“Cancer Research UK’s projections are that we will reach more than 500,000 new diagnoses of cancer a year in the UK by 2035. By that time, our goal is that three in four people will survive their cancer. Funding these Centres, like the ones in Manchester, is one of the charity’s most important strategic priorities and one which will help us reach this ambition. This huge investment is only made possible through generous donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “Manchester is now one of the world’s leading research centres for cancer and this funding represents an important step forward in finding new treatments, carrying out more trials and training the brightest minds to continue this work. Working with our partners at The Christie and Cancer Research UK gives us great strength, bringing together researchers and doctors to make new discoveries that benefit of people here and around the world."

Roger Spencer, Chief Executive at The Christie said: “This investment in research and development of new cancer medicines will be vital to the Manchester partnership achieving its ambition to become one of the largest centres for experimental cancer medicine trials worldwide.

“Patients are at the heart of everything we do at The Christie and this funding will enable us to deliver personalised treatments to even more patients. This in turn will translate into better outcomes for our patients.”

More novel clinical trials right here in Manchester

Professor Andrew Hughes, Joint Lead at Manchester’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and Strategic Director of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Team at The Christie, said: “This funding boost will enable us to deliver more novel clinical trials right here in Manchester – this will mean cancer patients from the North West will have access to new pioneering drugs as quickly as possible across all major cancer types.

“Specifically, the funding will be used to treat an additional 200 patients per year with the goal that by 2020 over 500 patients each year will have access to pioneering new drugs in experimental cancer medicine clinical trials.”

Nicola Blackwood, Minister for Public Health and Innovation, said: “We want to lead the world in fighting cancer. The work of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres is crucial in this fight. This next phase of funding from the National Institute for Health Research will help our world-leading researchers to continue to make new discoveries.

“The collaboration between universities, NHS Trusts and the research community is a key reason these centres are successful, and illustrates why the UK is the best place in the world to be a researcher.

“I hope this funding will ultimately lead to more life-saving treatments for patients.”

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell
Manchester is now one of the world’s leading research centres for cancer
President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

FInd out more about our cancer research achivements over the last few months.

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