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Cancer Research UK boost for Cardiff

10 September 2009

Doctor filling in chart

Cardiff today joins a chain of Cancer Research UK Centres which will draw together world leading research and medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients.

One of the first centres to be launched, the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre will help set the pace for national and international progress in genetics and cancer biomarkers.

University researchers and partners at Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK aim to make the Centre a world leader in developing treatments tailored to individual cancer patients. The approach is based on understanding the biology of the disease and how that varies among patients.

The Centre will focus on the biology and treatment of bowel, breast and urological cancers and leukaemia, and will work on how to make sure cancer is detected earlier.

Working with WORD – the Welsh Office of Research and Development in health and social care – researchers at the centre will also focus on better understanding how to prevent cancer. It will draw on the expertise of basic scientists, translational scientists, clinicians and research nurses.

Cancer Research UK already supports research in Cardiff but is looking to increase its contribution by spending an extra £2 million over three years – a massive boost to keep Cardiff leading the way on cancer research in Wales.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "The award of Cancer Research UK Centre status is testimony to the strength of the cancer expertise at Cardiff University and that of our partners in the NHS. The Centre promises to be an effective team in improving our understanding of different cancers, enhancing the treatment and detection of these diseases and also training the next generations of high quality cancer researchers."

Professor Alan Clarke, Professor of Genetics at the School of Biosciences and director of the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre, said: "We’ve done a lot of work on understanding how cancers, such as those of the bowel, develop and we are beginning to understand the genetics behind the disease. This Centre will make it easier to collaborate with doctors who are treating cancer patients, to speed up the process of translating our genetic research into improvements in diagnosis and treatment of this disease."

Professor Tim Maughan, deputy director of the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre and Chair of Cancer Studies at the School of Medicine, said: "We are running a clinical trial to find out if we can select the best treatment for each individual patient with bowel cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Drawing on expertise from other types of scientists at the centre will ensure that the tests used are of the highest quality to identify which patient gets which treatment so the results of our trial are used widely and effectively. Becoming a Cancer Research UK Centre is an important milestone in achieving our vision to beat cancer."

Dr Montserrat Lunati from Cyncoed, a senior lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the School of European Studies, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2008. She was given the chance to take part in Dr Maughan’s clinical trial. The trial - called Quasar 2 - tested whether adding a drug called Avastin to chemotherapy would make the treatment more effective.

Dr Lunati said: "The six months of chemotherapy were really tough, but I have been feeling well recently. I feel very fortunate to have taken part in this trial, and the level of care and monitoring I received from Professor Maughan, my research nurse and all the staff at Cardiff was of the highest standard. I'm glad that I've had the chance to contribute to the new research that could improve the treatment of so many patients like me."

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Funding these centres of excellence is one of the charity's priorities and will enable us to work towards the goals we have set to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients. We're able to launch this new centre thanks to the generous donations of our Welsh supporters but we need their continued support if we are to build on what we have started today."

In partnership with the University, the Centre also aims to maintain excellence in training clinical and non-clinical postgraduates by expanding their existing four year PhD programme.

Cancer Research UK plans to launch more centres around the UK during 2009.

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