The University of Southampton is delighted to announce it has reached its £25m target to fund the UK’s first dedicated centre for cancer immunology research.
For decades, Southampton scientists have made a number of advances in tumour immunology and immunotherapy research with an international reputation for its ‘bench to bedside’ results.
The new centre for cancer immunology, based at Southampton General Hospital, will bring together world-leading cancer scientists and enable interdisciplinary teams to expand clinical trials and develop more lifesaving drugs.
The fundraising campaign is the most ambitious the University has ever undertaken and was reached six months ahead of schedule – in time for World Cancer Day (4 February 2018). Scientists will move into the state-of-the-art centre next month.
“We are thrilled to have reached the £25m target for our new Centre for Cancer Immunology and are eternally grateful to everyone who has contributed,” said centre director Professor Tim Elliott.
“The efforts that people have gone to have been truly inspiring, we cannot thank you enough. The University has made major advances in tumour immunology and immunotherapy research and we strongly believe the new centre will go a long way in discovering new treatments and helping more people.
“I am proud to be spearheading a world-class team in the UK’s first centre dedicated to cancer immunology research, at such an exciting time in cancer immunology developments. By attracting the best talent and collaborating across disciplines, we will push the boundaries of knowledge about how our immune system works against cancer and accelerate towards more life-saving cancer treatments.”
Immunotherapy is a revolutionary treatment, supercharging the body’s natural defences to find and destroy cancer. The new treatments being developed by Southampton scientists, in the form of vaccines and antibodies, direct special immune cells against cancers. These ‘killer’ cells can control and shrink cancer and give long-lasting protection. The University, in collaboration with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, is developing treatments to target some of the most aggressive forms of the disease including cancers of the lung and skin and childhood neuroblastoma.
Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, said: “This is a significant day for the University. We are delighted and proud to have reached our target of £25m to fund this very pioneering research centre, the first of its kind in the UK. We are immensely grateful to everyone who made a contribution to the campaign – big or small. The next few years will see great advances in immunotherapies for cancer with the University of Southampton at the very forefront of discovery.”
One person who has benefited from Southampton’s immunotherapy expertise is Patricia Marriott.
Over 10 years ago, Patricia had a mole removed from her shin. A biopsy revealed malignant cancer cells and she was diagnosed with melanoma (advanced skin cancer). The cancer quickly spread to her lung, breast, and liver and after multiple operations and seemingly endless episodes of chemotherapy, she was advised not to continue with any further medical treatments. Patricia was diagnosed as terminal.
However, she was invited to participate in a clinical trial involving the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab. Following three months of treatment, there was noticeable improvement. One year later, she was diagnosed as completely cancer free – no cancer and no cancer cell markers.
Patricia, who lives in Warsash, now attends three-month checkups and will remain on the same clinical trial at Southampton indefinitely. Now aged 78, she is living an active life, cycling, gardening and even attending ballet classes
“The medical staff go to the ends of the Earth to find the right combination of therapies to give patients like me a second chance,” she says. “Now, the possibilities to live a full life are endless and it is thanks to all the clinicians and scientists who work tirelessly to find new ways of giving people hope. That’s what this new centre will bring – hope to so many people fighting this devastating disease.”
To celebrate reaching its target, the University of Southampton is encouraging people to help spread the news about its new life-saving centre in the run up to World Cancer Day, by wearing something white and sharing photos on social media using #WearingWhite between 1 – 4 February (visit www.southampton.ac.uk/youreit/wearingwhite for full details of how to get involved).
*Press release courtesy of the University of Southampton
Posted on Friday 2 February 2018