Drug Development Project

About this scheme

Key information

Career level
Established independent researcher
Industry researcher
Non-clinical researcher
Research area
Drug development
Pre-clinical research
Clinical trials
Biomarker research
Radiotherapy research
Imaging research
Final submission
Committee review
Funding period
No external funding, support for development to clinic
Funding amount
No external grant funding. Resources to develop the agent
We can develop your new cancer treatments from preclinical development through to early phase patient trials

We consider applicants that:

  • Have a novel cancer agent needing preclinical and/or clinical development
  • Have supporting in vivo efficacy data
  • Are based at a UK academic institution or;
  • Are a pharmaceutical or biotech company (UK or international)
  • Have already been in touch with our Centre for Drug Development to discuss the suitability of their proposal

All technology areas are considered, including small molecule, biological and other therapeutics.

Examples of eligible projects include those requiring:

  • Preclinical development, including biomarkers, assays, and formulation development prior to a phase 1 trial
  • Phase 1 trials, including phase 1a and 1b, first-in-human and first-in-class
  • Combinations of unregistered and registered agents
  • Early phase 2 proof of principle trials
  • Studies on unlicensed agents in active commercial development that are off the company’s critical path or repurposed novel agents

Drug Development Projects are not external grant funding awards. Approved projects are sponsored and managed by our Centre for Drug Development (CDD), and a project team is allocated to work in partnership with you.

The CDD manage the project for as long as necessary to support preclinical and early clinical development of the novel agent. This includes:

  • Managed preclinical and clinical development
  • Management of regulatory documents and communication with relevant authorities throughout the trial
  • Protocol design and trial management
  • Oversight of trial safety and clinical data
  • Treatment of patients in a UK-wide network of clinical centres with world-leading scientific investigators and expertise in early clinical trials

How to apply to this scheme

Before making your application

  • You must discuss the suitability of your proposal with the Centre for Drug Development
  • Please email drugdev@cancer.org.uk

Overview of the application process

Applications follow a two-stage process:

  1. Confidential, informal discussions with the Centre for Drug Development to establish eligibility and suitability
  2. Formal application and review by the New Agents Committee

Confidential discussion

Email us to request a discussion. If required, we will set up a Confidential Disclosure Agreement to protect your data.

Please include a short project outline. For us to conduct an internal review to determine suitability under this scheme, we typically require the following information (if available):

  • Project background and stage of development
  • Agent manufacture information and physicochemical properties
  • Target and scientific rationale, including mechanism of action
  • In vitro and in vivo data including efficacy, toxicology and PK/PD
  • Data or hypothesis-driven rationale for proof of mechanism biomarker and proof of principle/efficacy biomarker
  • Summary of preclinical or clinical studies proposed
  • The criteria that would constitute a successful study
  • IP position
  • Next steps in development
  • Agent’s USP or competitive advantage over other similar agents in development

Key considerations we look for in projects at this stage include:

  • Novelty
  • Strength of scientific rationale
  • Adequacy of preclinical data package
  • Potential application in patients

We will provide feedback on your proposal and advise if it is ready for a formal application and review.

Formal applications

  1. You must submit a data package through our online Grants Management System.
  2. New Agents Committee: you will be invited to attend the meeting or join online to give a brief overview and address any questions from Committee members. The Committee will consider your application.
  3. You will receive the NAC's decision and feedback within 4 weeks.

All NAC proposals and panel meetings are confidential.

Cancer Research UK contact details

kate searleKate Searle

Research Funding Manager

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3469 6929


Disability and accessibility support

We offer additional support for grant applicants and grant holders who are disabled or have a long-term health condition. 

Clinical lead in early phase trials, James Spicer

James Spicer set up and now runs the Cancer Early Phase Trials programme at Guy’s and St Thomas’. He's the lead investigator on a CRUK Centre for Drug Development project.

Read more