Headlines: July 1st, 2005

A joint initiative is being announced today between the Departments of Health and the charity Cancer Research UK to develop and expand a network of Centres for Experimental Cancer Medicine. The project will be worth 35 million pounds over five years and Cancer Research says the money will ensure that Britain stays at the forefront of international efforts to develop new treatments for cancer.

The initiative will be developed under the umbrella of the National Cancer Research Institute and will be fully coordinated with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration activities in experimental medicine. It will ensure that new treatments are targeted at those patients most likely to benefit.

The network of centres will build on the work of the National Translational Cancer Research Network, funded by the Department of Health, and set up in 2002 as part of the National Cancer Plan to facilitate cancer research within the National Health Service. Under the new scheme, existing NTRAC centres will be encouraged to apply to become Centres for Experimental Cancer Medicine. At the same time new centres will be encouraged to apply for funding to help broaden the network. Successful applicants can expect to receive funding of between 200,000 and 500,000 pounds a year.

The money will meet infrastructure costs, helping centres to bring together scientific and clinical research and to share knowledge and resources for the benefit of cancer patients. The funding is open to all centres working in experimental cancer medicine.

Professor Sally Davies, Director of Research and Development for the Department of Health, said the initiative would bring extra funding into developing cancer treatments for patients and build on the proven success of the NTRAC network. Harpal Kumar, Chief Operating Officer of Cancer Research UK, said it would bolster the infrastructure of centres, enabling them to position the UK at the international forefront in experimental cancer medicine.