Leicester cancer researchers lead the way in cutting-edge research
Issued by Cancer Research UK on Friday 13 May
Researchers from the city’s Cancer Research UK Centre* based at the University of Leicester, will be collaborating with scientists across the UK, following the announcement today of the charity’s Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards**.
Designed to inspire new approaches to beating cancer, the awards will invest around £4 million, over five years, in a UK-wide initiative to expand the first national post-mortem cancer study***.
Doctors will invite terminally ill patients – most of whom are taking part in clinical trials – to donate samples of their cancer after their death. They will be asked to discuss the issue with their families, before deciding to be part of this pioneering research.
It aims to understand how cancer changes and evolves in advanced stages of the disease to help develop better treatments for cancer that has spread.
Researchers in Leicester will join forces with scientists from Belfast, Cambridge, Glasgow, Manchester and London**** to roll out the study collecting blood and tissue samples from patients who have died from cancer.
This work will be vital for understanding the evolution and final stages of the disease and the genetics of certain tumours that are hard for doctors to take samples from when patients are alive, like brain tumours.
Scientists will be able to study how tumours develop and spread in advanced cancer, how and why tumours become resistant to treatment and how the body reacts to the disease during the final stages, as well as looking at potential ways to boost the immune system to fight cancer.
Dr John Le Quesne is the lead researcher for the study at the University of Leicester.
He said: “We’re delighted to be a part of this grant from Cancer Research UK. It will help to further our understanding of cancer and give patients the choice to contribute to research after their death.
“The vital investment in this study will help us complete the whole cancer picture – from diagnosis to end of life – which we need to understand how the disease changes and evolves over time. It’s these changes which make the cancer difficult to treat because it can stop responding to treatment.
“We are so incredibly thankful to the patients who have agreed to take part. With their help we can do research that will help more people survive this devastating disease.”
Lydia Knott, aged 79 from Newtown Linford, Leicestershire, was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago having never smoked in her life.
She has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is currently on the TracerX***** study.
Lydia, who works as a parish council clerk, said: “I had no qualms about agreeing to take part. I didn’t even have to go away and think about it. I said yes immediately.
“I understand it’s a sensitive area and not everyone is going to feel comfortable about this topic. But my view is that if it helps other people and helps to advance research into cancer treatments then it can only be a positive study.
“I have a very clear understanding of what it involves and my children back my decision. At the moment I’m very fit, active and mobile but if, after my death, parts of my body can be used for valuable research purposes, I’m more than happy with this.”
Cancer Research UK’s Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards will invest a total of around £16 million in four ground-breaking projects – including the post-mortem cancer study- which are helping to speed up advances in research into hard to treat cancers.
Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director for research funding at Cancer Research UK, said: “Effective partnerships are crucial for delivering the greatest science and boosting advancements in fighting cancer.
“We’re excited to be investing in collaborative and innovative research in Leicester and across the UK. It’s by working together and uniting expertise that we will accelerate cutting-edge research and save more lives.”
The post-mortem cancer study is not yet open for patients across the UK.
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Notes to Editors
* The Leicester Cancer Research UK Centre is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, the University of Leicester and Leicester’s University NHS Hospitals working with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit based at the University campus and the charity - Hope Against Cancer.
** The Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards provide infrastructure support to research centres in order to encourage collaboration between different organisations and boost ‘bench to bedside’ science. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/how-we-deliver-research/about-our-centres
***The PEACE (Posthumous tissue donation in CancEr) study launched last year at the Cancer Research UK UCL Centre and is now going national. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/find-a-clinical-trial/a-study-looking-at-blood-and-tissue-samples-to-learn-more-about-advanced-cancer-peace
****Collaborating centres: Cancer Research UK UCL Centre, Cancer Research UK Belfast Centre, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre, the Francis Crick Institute, Cancer Research UK Leicester Centre, Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre and King’s College London (Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust).
About Cancer Research UK
- Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
- Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
- Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
- Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
- Today, 2 in 4 people will still be alive 10 years or more after a cancer diagnosis. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will still be alive 10 years or more after a cancer diagnosis.
- Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
- Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is consistently one of the most socially inclusive of the UK’s top 20 universities with a long-standing commitment to providing fairer and equal access to higher education. The University of Leicester is The Times/Sunday Times 2014 University of the Year Runner-Up and the THE University of the Year 2008-9. Leicester is a three-time winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education and is the only University to win seven consecutive awards from the Times Higher. Leicester is ranked 14th out of 121 institutions by The Times/Sunday Times and the University is ranked among the top two-per cent in the world by the QS World University Rankings, Taiwan World University Rankings and THE World University Rankings.
Hope Against Cancer
Hope Against Cancer, formally known as the Hope Foundation, was established in 2003 to increase the funds available for cancer research in Leicestershire and Rutland and make clinical trials more available to local people. Surveys demonstrate that when patients with cancer are treated at cancer centres and units carrying out research, outcomes are significantly improved.
Around 5,000 people in Leicestershire are diagnosed with cancer each year and the region currently has hot spots of cancer associated with cultural and socio-economic factors and healthcare inequalities.
Since 2003 Hope has raised over £3m and funded over 30 research projects tackling many different forms of cancer. In 2012 the charity established and opened a dedicated clinical trials unit - a partnership between the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals - at Leicester Royal Infirmary to offer patients access to new medicines and therapies, funding a dedicated HOPE Nurse to add to the care and support trials patients receive. Hope has also been instrumental in the city of Leicester becoming a cancer research centre of excellence. This will prioritise leading potential practice changes in early detection, prevention and treatment of cancers while continuing to identify research projects with a clear benefit for patients across the region.
Hope Against Cancer works closely with the Universities of Leicester, Loughborough and De Montfort and is grateful for their support. Visit their website at: http://www.hfcr.org/