Southampton scientists set for £3.5 million cash boost from Cancer Research UK

Gareth GriffithsSouthampton doctors and scientists are set to receive a major cash boost for pioneering research into cancer.

Cancer Research UK is planning to invest over £3.5 million over the next five years in ground-breaking work at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)*.

The grant will allow doctors and scientists to continue researching and testing better and kinder treatments for patients. 

The Cancer Research UK Southampton CTU – based at University Hospital Southampton - gives people with cancer access to innovative treatments.

The latest funding announcement follows a major review by the charity of all its CTUs - resulting in £45m being invested into eight units across the UK, one of the charity’s largest investments in clinical research to date.

The cash injection will not only enable the specialist team to increase the number of early-phase clinical trials being run in Southampton, it will also expand work around cancers where more work is needed to improve survival, such as oesophageal, colorectal, bladder and lymphoma. The money will also support the ongoing ground-breaking work in immunology taking place in the city.

Professor Gareth Griffiths, director of Southampton CTU, said: “We are delighted and very proud that Southampton has been given this investment.

“Our clinical research enables us to translate discoveries from the lab and improve cancer treatments, giving more patients the best chance of beating their disease.

“We have worked hard over the last five years in developing cutting edge clinical trials in a number cancer types.

“The new funding will allow us to increase the number of clinical trials we are able to do, and enable us to develop into new cancer areas like oesophageal and bladder, where there is a real patient need to find new effective treatments.”

The Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit is one of a number of charity-funded facilities in the grounds of the city’s hospital – there is also a dedicated CRUK centre where a team of clinical scientists and researchers are based, an Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and a team of Cancer Research UK nurses helping to recruit and care for patients when they access clinical trials.

Prof Griffiths said such a strong research infrastructure, funded by Cancer Research UK, puts the city firmly on the global map.

He said: “Having a concentration of these different types of CRUK research facilities in the same location means we are able to attract the very best academic cancer researchers from across the UK and indeed around the world to work with us. This environment also allows us to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to access new cancer treatments for our trials.”

Clinical trials are vital to test new treatments. In Southampton, a trial for patients with B-cell Lymphoma has just opened and is in the process of recruiting its first patient.

The trial, called RIVA, is looking at combining two drugs - rituximab and varlilumab – for patients who either didn’t respond to initial standard treatment, or whose cancer has returned.

Cancer Research UK’s CTUs specialise in the design, delivery and analysis of trials that bring the latest scientific developments to patients all over the UK. They’re a vital part of the charity’s research network, helping shape the clinical research landscape in the UK and internationally.

Jenny Makin, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Southampton, said: “This crucial investment recognises the fantastic research taking place in Southampton. It ensures researchers can take full advantage of our most promising scientific discoveries and translate them into new tests and treatments for patients.

“One-in-two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives - so it’s reassuring to know that, thanks to our supporters, Cancer Research UK is able to fund some of the best and most promising research here in Southampton, to help more people survive.

Jenny continued: “There are so many ways to support Cancer Research UK’s lifesaving work, from signing up to Walk All Over Cancer in March to entering Race for Life, which takes place on Southampton Common on the weekend of June 30-July 1; or giving time to volunteer in our shops.”

“Survival has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress – but every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

For more information, visit www.southampton.ac.uk/ctu. Press release courtesy of Cancer Research UK.
Posted on Thursday 15 February 2018