Some of London’s most prestigious research institutes are coming together to form a new centre focused on cancer biotherapeutics, launched with a £14 million ($18.4 million) check from Cancer Research UK.
The group, which will be called Cancer Research UK City of London Centre, comprises investigators from University College London, King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London and the Francis Crick Institute. Like some of Cancer Research UK’s other centres across the country, it will be a virtual entity operating out of the partners’ premises instead of one physical location.
Focusing on the type cancer treatment based on living cells — like CAR-T — the coalition will offer around 14 million patients the opportunity to take part in cutting-edge research as part of their treatment.
“We believe that, in the future, the biotherapeutics field will transform cancer care. However, there are several research challenges still to tackle,” said Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician. “We need to understand why some patients respond to these new treatments while others don’t, and how to identify which patients might experience harmful side effects. Most importantly, we need to optimise their activity to offer more patients access to these therapies who may benefit. With this substantial new funding and world-leading expertise, the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre is especially well placed to deliver on these promises.”
Experts from the participating institutions will put their knowledge of imaging, clinical trials and tumor evolution to work on research of all cancer types, with a focus on childhood cancers.
This type of interdisciplinary collaboration will set the centre apart, said Tariq Enver, centre lead and UCL professor investigating stem cells.
“Our ambition is for the Centre to stimulate further economic activity in biotechnology in London as new companies are formed, and industry partners move in to translate the most promising discoveries into marketable therapies,” he said. “London’s hospitals will also become flagship centres for treating patients with these new biological therapies, setting the standard for healthcare providers all over the world.”
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