Biological therapies get £10m boost from Cancer Research UK to offer patients more treatments

Cancer Research UK

Discovering and developing the next generation of biological based treatments are at the heart of Cancer Research UK’s biotherapeutics funding schemes.

“Biotherapeutics research is an incredibly exciting new area of research that is capturing the attention of both researchers and industry." - Dr Iain Foulkes

Biotherapeutics research is based on normal biological processes in a cell which we can engineer to help fight cancer. This encompasses everything from protein and gene based treatments to using viruses and antibodies to hunt down and attack the tumour. And it is already making huge inroads in finding new ways to treat cancer.

Harnessing the body’s immune system through immunotherapies is showing promise in clinical trials while cancer-seeking antibodies are being developed that can deliver drugs direct to the tumour or interfere with how cancer cells communicate with each other.

Cancer Research UK’s new biotherapeutics funding schemes will give new opportunities to scientists and clinicians to harness the power of these treatments. Applications for the award will be judged on the potential of turning the research findings into new preventative, diagnostic or therapeutic approaches for cancer.

Two funding schemes will be available: the Cancer Research UK Biotherapeutics Programme Awards and the Cancer Research UK Biotherapeutic Drug Discovery Project Awards

The Biotherapeutic Programme Awards provide support for up to five years with total funding of £2.5 million for research aimed at all stages of biotherapeutics drug discovery and development.

And, research to identify and validate new drug targets, and the discovery and development of new treatments are the focus of the Biotherapeutic Drug Discovery Project Awards. These will offer funding of around £100,000 per year for projects lasting around two years*.

To support these awards Cancer Research UK has established an alliance with the pharmaceutical company MedImmune giving access to their expertise in antibody production and library of potential biological therapies.

Dr Alexa Smith, head of translational funding at Cancer Research UK, said: “Biotherapeutics already play an important role in the treatment of cancer but there‘s huge potential to do more for patients. The technologies required to generate these medicines are well established and this scheme is designed to boost the efforts to identify and test new biotherapeutics.”

Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of strategy and research funding, said: “Biotherapeutics research is an incredibly exciting new area of research that is capturing the attention of both researchers and industry. With the launch of the Cancer Research UK biotherapeutics awards we want to seize the opportunity to be at the forefront of accelerating this cutting edge science in the lab so that it can benefit patients sooner.”  

  • To find out more about biotherapeutics, read our blog here


For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

*There is scope and flexibility to exceed these limits should the project require either more time or funds.