New cancer centre launched in Cardiff

Cancer Research UK

Cardiff today (Thursday) joins a unique chain of Cancer Research UK Centres that are being launched across the UK.

These Cancer Centres will draw together world class research and areas of medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients nationwide.

As one of the first centres, the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre will help set the pace for national and international progress in genetics and cancer biomarkers.

It will focus on the biology and treatment of bowel, breast and urological cancers and leukaemia, and will work on how to make sure cancer is detected earlier.

Cancer Research UK already supports research in Cardiff but is looking to increase its contribution by spending an extra £2 million over three years - a massive boost to keep Cardiff leading the way on cancer research in Wales.

Professor Alan Clarke, based at Cardiff University and director of the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre, said: "Joining the network of Cancer Research UK centres is very important for patients, doctors and scientists in Cardiff.

"We've done a lot of work on understanding how cancers, such as those of the bowel, develop and we are beginning to understand the genetics behind the disease. This centre will make it easier to collaborate with doctors who are treating cancer patients, to speed up the process of translating our genetic research into improvements in diagnosis and treatment of this disease."

Working with WORD - the Welsh Office of Research and Development in health and social care - researchers at the centre will also focus on better understanding how to prevent cancer.

In partnership with Cardiff University, the Centre aims to maintain excellence in training clinical and non-clinical postgraduates by expanding their existing four year PhD programme.

The Centre aims to be a world leader in developing treatments tailored to individual cancer patients based on understanding the biology of the disease and how that varies among patients. It brings together the researchers and support from the Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK.

Dr Montserrat Lunati, 56, from Cyncoed, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2008. She was given the chance to take part in a clinical trial at Cardiff's Velindre Hospital. The trial - called Quasar 2 - tested whether adding a drug called Avastin to chemotherapy would make the treatment more effective.

Mother-of-one Dr Lunati, who is also a senior lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Cardiff University, said: "After my operation last June, my consultant told me about a trial that was running in Cardiff and I was happy to take part. The six months of chemotherapy were really tough, but I have been feeling well recently.

"I feel very fortunate to have taken part in this trial, and the level of care and monitoring I received from Professor Maughan, my research nurse and all the staff at Cardiff was of the highest standard.

"I'm glad that I've had the chance to contribute to the new research that could improve the treatment of so many patients like me."

Professor Tim Maughan, deputy director of the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre and Chair of Cancer Studies at Cardiff University, said: "The Centre really helps to focus the application of knowledge to fighting cancer in the clinic by bringing together basic scientists, translational scientists, clinicians and research nurses.

"We are running a clinical trial to find out if we can select the best treatment for each individual patient with bowel cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Drawing on expertise from other types of scientists at the centre will ensure that the tests used are of the highest quality to identify which patient gets which treatment so the results of our trial are used widely and effectively. Becoming a Cancer Research UK Centre is an important milestone in achieving our vision to beat cancer."

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Funding these centres of excellence is one of the charity's priorities and will enable us to work towards the goals we have set to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients. We're able to launch this new centre thanks to the generous donations of our Welsh supporters but we need their continued support if we are to build on what we have started today."

Cancer Research UK plans to launch more centres around the UK during 2009.

ENDS

For media enquiries please call the Cancer Research UK press officer in Wales on 07918 653002 or the London press office office on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours' duty press officer on 07050 264059.

Notes to Editor

Click here to listen to an interview with Cancer Research UK's Professor Alan Clarke discussing the new centre

Cancer Research UK Centres aim to establish a nationwide network of excellence that will provide the best possible outcomes for patients by linking research activity with patient care and public engagement. Each Centre will focus on specific areas of research and aim to raise standards of care and forge links with local communities.