Landmark centre for clinical cancer research launched in Edinburgh

Cancer Research UK

The first Cancer Research UK Clinical Centre in Scotland will be launched at the University of Edinburgh today (Wednesday).

A particular research focus at the Cancer Research UK Clinical Centre at Edinburgh will be the genetics of bowel and ovarian cancer to understand their causes and to develop new treatments.

The centre is part of a flagship series of research centres designed to get new treatments to patients faster by fostering collaboration between scientists and doctors. Cancer Research UK is currently rolling the centres out across the UK.

The Edinburgh centre is located at the city's Western General Hospital and will make full use of the newly commissioned £7 million laboratory buildings at the hospital. It brings together a host of scientists, doctors, nurses and data managers and provides them with unparalleled facilities.

Professor John Smyth, who is the Director of the new centre at the Western General Hospital, says: "While laboratory scientists work towards understanding the causes of cancer and developing better treatments, clinical teams on the same site will carry out trials of those new treatments in patients.

"Bringing together the programmes of leading researchers will foster collaboration and accelerate the process of developing new cancer treatments."

The Edinburgh centre hosts 10 Cancer Research UK principal investigators supported by a total of 200 people involved in cancer research programmes. Funding for these programmes from Cancer Research UK amounts to £3.5 million per year.

Leading scientists have already moved their entire research programmes to Edinburgh from elsewhere to be part of the Centre, and others may follow in the future. Research at the Centre will focus on five key areas:

  1. Laboratory research on cancers of the ovary, bowel, and breast
  2. The development of new anti-cancer drugs, particularly based on the exploitation of genetic knowledge
  3. An innovative ovarian genetics programme which has identified new genes
  4. Research into the hormonal control of breast and ovarian cancer
  5. Psycho-social research into the quality of life of cancer patients and their families

The Centre also incorporates the Sir Alastair Currie Cancer Research UK Laboratories, where researchers are studying the processes of DNA repair and its failure in cancers such as malignant melanoma.

Professor Smyth adds: "We are all very excited about our new Centre, made possible through a strong collaboration between Cancer Research UK, the University of Edinburgh and the National Health Service in Scotland."

Cancer Research UK opened the first of its series of multimillion-pound clinical research centres one year ago (22 January 2004), at Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London.

Cancer Research UK's Chief Executive Professor Alex Markham says: "Our biological knowledge about cancer grows by the day. We are setting up this series of clinical centres with the aim of translating that wealth of information into treatments as quickly as possible.

"At the new Edinburgh clinical centre, doctors and scientists will work side by side at one of Britain's foremost and largest university hospitals. Scientists working in complementary areas of cancer research will be able to share ideas and equipment in a common space.

"Scotland has a history of being at the forefront of medical science and this new centre is part of maintaining that tradition."

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Professor Alex Markham is announcing the establishment of the new clinical research centre at a Research Day held by the University of Edinburgh and Cancer Research UK at the Royal Society of Edinburgh today.

The locations selected for the new Centres for Clinical Cancer Research are already key sites for Cancer Research UK work. The charity funds research groups across the UK and the sites approved to host Clinical Centres are academic institutions with Cancer Research UK investment of more than £1 million per year capable of creating added value.

The Western General Hospital is one of the largest hospitals of its kind in the UK. It serves around 1.5 million people including those living in Edinburgh, South Fife, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

The new laboratories at the Western General Hospital were built with £5 million from the University of Edinburgh and £2 million from Cancer Research UK.