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Cardiff to meet UK need for cancer stem cell research

05 July 2010

Medical science has made steady progress in tackling cancer over recent decades.

However, survival rates remain low for many types of cancer, with tumours growing back after initial treatment. The survival rate for lung cancer is only six per cent five years after initial diagnosis. For pancreatic cancer the figure is only three per cent.

There is still a need to understand better what happens when treatments fail, how they can be made more effective and how new therapies can be developed.

The cancer stem cell concept offers a possible approach. Evidence now suggests that tumours are made up of different kinds of cell, and that cancer stem cells may play a key role in establishing the tumour, in causing it to grow, and in spreading it further around the body. If the concept is correct, it may be possible to tackle cancer by concentrating purely on these cells, rather than aiming at all tumour cells as present therapies do. Other countries, including the USA, Germany and Canada are already investing heavily in this area of scientific research.

For this reason, Cardiff University has established the Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, to meet the need for a UK Centre for this crucial science.

The new Institute will build on Cardiff’s existing strengths in fundamental biomedicine, drug development and clinical trials. It will examine the role of cancer stem cells in the development of the most common forms of the disease, including blood, breast, colon and urological cancers.

Professor Alan Clarke of the University’s School of Biosciences, who led the creation of the new Institute, said: "Cancer stem cell science is still at an early stage. At the very least, we expect cancer stem cells to shed light on why some contemporary treatments are failing. However, we intend to go much further than that at Cardiff. The Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute will be a leader in developing entirely new therapies which can make a real difference to the lives of patients the world over."

The Research Institute is one of three launched by Cardiff University to create interdisciplinary approaches to new problems. The other two address mental health and sustainability.


Further information:

Professor Alan R Clarke,

Joint Head of Research,
Cardiff School of Biosciences,
Cardiff University
Tel : 02920 874609

Stephen Rouse,

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University.

029 2087 5596


Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

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