London will be transformed into a world leading hub for cancer biotherapeutics research and treatment, with a new £14 million (approximately €16 million) investment from Cancer Research UK, the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world.
The new Cancer Research UK City of London Centre brings together researchers from leading British institutions: University College London (UCL), King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London and the Francis Crick Institute. It will become a global centre of excellence for biotherapeutics and a pioneering field of cancer research.
Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of research and innovation, commented:
“The unique research focus of the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre will lay the foundation for the future of precision medicine, where existing treatments are combined with, or even replaced entirely by the latest biological therapies, with the hope of achieving lasting cures for more cancer patients.”
Biotherapeutics are any type of treatment that is produced by, involves, or manipulates living cells. These therapies are based on biological processes in cells, which we can engineer to help fight cancer. For example, immunotherapy has transformed our ability to treat some types of cancer, harnessing the body’s own powerful immune system to eliminate cancer cells.
“We believe that, in the future, the biotherapeutics field will transform cancer care. However, there are several research challenges still to tackle. 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,” said Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Professor Charles Swanton.
The City of London Centre will gather expertise from each partner institution including specialists in imaging, clinical trials and tumour evolution. Research will span all cancer types, including a focus on childhood cancers. There has been recent progress treating children with immunotherapies and researchers hope to extend this success to even more patients so that everyone, regardless of age or cancer type, can benefit from the latest innovations in treatment.
In addition to accelerating the development of some of the most promising cancer research studies in the capital, the centre will also provide multiple new opportunities for collaboration and training. This is the first time that these leading London institutions have partnered to tackle cancer on such a large scale.