Our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres are getting new treatments to patients faster
We’ve previously written about our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) – a network of ‘virtual’ hubs across the UK bringing together scientists, doctors and nurses to take new cancer drugs from the lab to clinical trials as quickly as possible.
The ECMCs were set up five years ago with funding from Cancer Research UK and the devolved Departments of Health in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re now able to invest in these vital centres for a further five years – including the Departments of Health’s contributions, a total of £35 million has been committed from next year.
With the announcement of this new funding, it’s a good time to look back on what the ECMCs have achieved over the past five years, and how they are helping to beat cancer.
A molecular "relay race" could lead to a new treatment for cancer
A big problem in cancer treatment is how to deliver enough of the drugs needed to treat the tumour without causing excessive side effects. To make matters worse, cancers can develop resistance to drugs over time, meaning that increasingly higher doses and more potent cocktails of drugs are often needed to tackle the disease.
But more powerful drugs usually mean more serious side effects. So there comes a point when increasing the dosage of the drug any further simply isn’t possible due to the damage that powerful cancer drugs can do to the body in large amounts.
So Dr Mark Middleton and his team, based at Cancer Research UK’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) in Oxford, have discovered a possible way around this challenging problem through the development of a new, more targeted cancer therapy. Their results are published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
We want the next government to protect the UK's research base
Cancer Research UK’s ‘Commit to Beat Cancer’ campaign calls on parliamentary candidates to pledge to keep cancer high on the political agenda. Over the next few weeks we will be exploring some of the issues behind these calls.
In this instalment Emma Greenwood, policy researcher at Cancer Research UK, explains why all parties should support the UK’s world-class science base.
The UK leads the world in medical research – partly because so much of its medical research is funded by its charities. For example, members of the Association of Medical Research Charities spent £935 million on research in 2008/09.
At Cancer Research UK our research is entirely funded by the public’s generosity, demonstrating the UK’s heartfelt commitment to beating cancer. In 2008/09, we were able to spend £355 million of your donations on research, which supported the work of over 4,500 scientists, doctors and nurses – who are all trying to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.
But it’s vital that the country remains at the forefront of medical research. And this is where Government support is crucial.
Here are three key ways in which we are calling on the next Government to protect the UK’s position as a world leader…
Research into cancer changes lives. But turning a discovery made in the lab into something that can benefit patients is a long and sometimes difficult process.
While some problems in research are technical, others centre on communication. And it’s not only when cancer hits the headlines that communication is important. As research changes our understanding of cancer, communication between scientists, doctors, policymakers and the public about the implications of new discoveries is absolutely vital.
Last month a conference at the British Library explored some of the problems in communicating cancer research, and ways to prevent the key messages from being ‘lost in translation’. Read on to find out about some of the ideas that came up, and you can also hear from the speakers in this video:
Cancer Research UK’s work is helping people to beat cancer. Our scientific research into new treatments has, over the years, contributed to 19 of the top 20 cancer drugs used to treat people worldwide.
We fund around 4,800 scientists, doctors and nurses in a network of universities, institutes and hospitals across the UK.
But it might not be simple to picture just how, exactly, the generous donations of our supporters go towards developing the latest therapies.
After recent articles in the media (for example, The Observer and The Independent) talking about our network of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) it seems like a good time to highlight how we provide patients with new opportunities to participate in clinical trials for the latest and most innovative cancer treatments.