Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re able to spend hundreds of millions of pounds every year on life-saving cancer research.
And our highly experienced Science Committee makes sure this money goes to fund the most creative, promising and innovative research in the UK.
The committee recently met to decide which pioneering new research projects have what it takes to lead the fight against cancer.
After careful consideration the committee chose to spend over £23million in world class research across a spectrum of work – from screening to trials and cancer biology.
Here are some of the highlights.
Testing new treatments
New and better treatments are essential for ensuring more people survive cancer. So we have approved 18 crucial trials to test new treatments for people with cancer.
Two of these were funded under The International Rare Cancers Initiative – as part of our commitment to beating rare cancers.
Rare cancers make up around a fifth of all cancer diagnoses in Europe – making them more widespread than any single common cancer. But because the numbers of people with each of these cancer types is small, we need to look far and wide to reach enough people to run clinical trials.
This important Initiative will set up international clinical trials to boost the progress of much-needed new treatments for these patients.
We will be supporting Dr Richard Wilson, who leads the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network and will be leading a study for people with a type of small bowel cancer. Here’s a video of Richard explaining his work:
Anal cancers affect just over 900 people in the UK each year. Dr Sheela Rao, based at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, will be investigating the best way to treat people with an advanced form of this cancer type.
As well as these trials for rarer forms of the disease, another promising study comes from Dr Peter Hillmen from the University of Leeds. He’s testing whether a new targeted drug is better than chemotherapy for people with the most common type of leukaemia, called chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
Around 2,400 people are diagnosed with CLL in the UK each year. This important avenue of research on a drug with the potential to be highly effective – but with a low toxicity profile and few side effects – could one day deliver a much better option for people with this type of cancer.
You can find more about current UK clinical trials on our Trials Database.
From the lab bench to the clinic
We are also supporting 13 high-quality projects from some of the UK’s leading cancer researchers, who are making fundamental discoveries about how tumours grow and spread – and who want to take steps to translate their observations into treatments and diagnostic tests that benefitpeople with cancer.
In Edinburgh, Professor Margaret Frame, is focusing on one of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment – how to stop the disease spreading to other parts of the body.
Most deaths from cancer are caused by spread of the disease and her project will help her understand how the movement and spread of cancer cells is controlled. Ultimately, she aims to translate these discoveries to develop new drugs that target cancer cells and effectively treat people.
Dr Jude Fitzgibbon at Queen Mary, University of London will be developing biomarkers to reveal how people with lymphoma respond to treatment.
By bringing together a team of clinicians and scientists with complementary backgrounds, he’ll be answering timely questions which will lead to better outcomes for people with cancer.
We’re also setting up large population studies and research into screening, prevention and early diagnosis, with five exciting new projects in this area.
Of particular note is the CONCORD2 study led by Professor Michel Coleman, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
He will be carrying out the largest and most comprehensive cancer registration study in the world, to understand trends in cancer occurrence and survival.
His work will promote important international partnerships to evaluate the effectiveness of cancer control at national, regional and global levels – using data from 50 different countries.
The results will contribute to the World Health Organisation’s action plan to prevent and control non-communicable diseases.
Another highlight is a study, which will be led by Professor Raj Bhopal at the University of Edinburgh, aiming to understand inequalities in cancer outcomes in minority ethnic populations across the UK.
The study will investigate whether there are ethnic inequalities in both bowel cancer screening participation and in the results of the screening – and the reasons for any disparity.
This is a priority for us, because we know that diagnosing cancer at an early stage, when the chances of successful treatment are higher, is is an important area which could help improve cancer survival rates for people in the UK.
This study should help address some of the underlying reasons for late diagnosis.
United we are stronger than cancer
Taken together, these studies give us a lot to look forward to. They exemplify not only the many ways in which we are trying to tackle cancer, but also what we can achieve when we work together – using the commitment of our supporters and the brilliance of our researchers to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
But while £23m is a considerable investment, there’s still a wealth of excellent research out there that we can’t afford to fund – and that’s why continued support from the public is so vital to our progress.