£17.5m Investment For Cancer Research

Cancer research is set to benefit from £17.5m that will fund 13 Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres across England, Health Minister Andy Burnham said today.

The Government investment was announced today at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference and is part of a £35 million package that included money from Cancer Research UK and the Departments of Health in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Over the next five years, this investment will strengthen experimental cancer medicine in England. The new Centres will focus on investigating whether and how the latest discoveries and cancer treatments work when tested with patients so they can be developed for use in the NHS as quickly as possible.

This funding will ensure that England remains at the forefront of international efforts to develop new treatments for all types of cancers including the well known lung and breast cancers to more rare mouth and stomach cancers. It will also mean that patients will benefit from leading edge treatments in world-class facilities.

Funding to the centres is awarded following a competitive bidding process last year which resulted in an international review panel awarding grants to thirteen centres and two centres in development in England based on their scientific and clinical excellence. Starting in April 2007, each Centre will receive around £2 million over the next five years to drive the development of new anti-cancer treatments to improve patient care.

Health Minister Andy Burnham said: “Significant progress has been made in improving cancer services since the launch of the Cancer Plan six years ago. Cancer death rates are falling across the board. We are not complacent though and this important investment in experimental cancer medicine means that cancer patients will receive faster access to improved, safer treatments and the highest quality patient care.

“It demonstrates the commitment of the Government and key partners to work together to establish the UK as a world leader in clinical research. The NHS plays a vital role in translating medical advances from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside. This initiative is an essential step that will ultimately lead to improving the care we offer cancer patients and the public.”

Professor Sally Davies, director of research and development for the Department of Health, said: “This initiative is dedicating vital funding to develop new treatments for cancer patients and this substantial investment in experimental medicine underpins our commitment to this important area of research. We are delighted to support this initiative through the provision of essential NHS infrastructure funding.”

The initiative is being developed under the umbrella of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) and will be fully coordinated with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration’s (UKCRC) activities in experimental medicine outside cancer.

The network will build on the successful work of the Departments of Health-funded National Translational Cancer Research Network (NTRAC). NTRAC was established in 2002 as part of the National Cancer Plan to help facilitate translational cancer research in the NHS.