£1.5m boost for cancer research in Liverpool

Liverpool scientists and doctors are set to receive a major cash boost for research into cancer (University of Liverpool, 2017).

Cancer Research UK and NIHR plan to invest nearly £1.5m over the next five years in ground-breaking work at the Liverpool Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC). The ECMC is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Liverpool, the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust and the Cancer Research UK Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit.

The doctors, nurses and scientists in Liverpool are devoting their time to research and develop innovative, more effective cancer treatments. Their specialist areas include pancreatic cancer, blood cancers and studying how drugs work. The ECMC gives people with cancer access to cutting-edge treatments by testing new ways of detecting and monitoring the disease and how it responds to treatment through early phase clinical trials.

Professor Dan Palmer, Centre Lead and a senior cancer specialist at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said “We are very proud that Liverpool has been awarded this funding and ECMC status. Over the next five years we will increase the number of clinical trials we’re running and this investment means we will be able to continue our work in developing new cancer drugs – getting discoveries from the laboratory to clinical trials in patients and learning as much as possible from our patients to initiate new research.”

“This award represents a critical investment in the research infrastructure at Liverpool, equipping us with the key laboratory and clinical tools needed to advance the understanding and treatment of cancer for the benefit of people in Liverpool and beyond. It will be used to support essential posts in the ECMC – such as research nurses, data managers, trial co-ordinators and the processing of patient samples – so that we can help beat cancer sooner.”

The ECMCs aim to bring better treatments to cancer patients in the UK faster through both the adult and children’s network of centres. They are hubs where promising cancer treatments, including small molecule drugs, surgery, immunotherapy, and vaccines, are safely tested through clinical trials.

Over the last year researchers have worked hard to increase the access to clinical trials for patients from Liverpool and the surrounding area.

University of Liverpool Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janet Beer, said “This award is a recognition of our research and means the Liverpool ECMC will pioneer new treatments to give cancer patients a brighter future. We are very proud of the team of Liverpool cancer doctors led by Professor Dan Palmer who secured this prestigious award.”

Andrew Cannell, Chief Executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust also welcomed the announcement. He said “We are delighted to be working with leading experts from the University of Liverpool and the Cancer Research UK Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit. This news illustrates the commitment of the Trust to making ground breaking research available closer to our patients and on our research strength as part of our plans to transform cancer care. It is also testament to the work done by Professor Palmer and the team at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.”

Nicola Blackwood, Minister for Public Health and Innovation, said “We want to lead the world in fighting cancer. The work of ECMCs is crucial to achieving this aim. This next phase of funding from the National Institute for Health Research will help our world-leading researchers to continue to make new discoveries. I hope this funding will ultimately lead to more life-saving treatments for patients.”

Every year around 2,600 people are diagnosed with cancer in Liverpool and around 1,200 people die of the disease in the city every year.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said “This award is recognition of the fantastic research taking place in Liverpool. One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives – so it’s reassuring to know that, thanks to our supporters, Cancer Research UK is able to fund some of the best and most promising research here, in Liverpool, to help more people survive. Survival has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress – but every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

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