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Huge funding boost to help transform cancer therapies

8 February 2013

The collective sum of £2.45 million has been awarded to Cardiff University's European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI) to further its world class research in investigating cancer causes and developing new therapies to halt its spread.

Director of ECSCRI, Professor Alan Clarke and Senior Lecturer Dr Matthew Smalley were awarded the funding by Cancer Research UK to drive forward their respective research areas in cancer stem cells.

Professor Clarke, who is also Head of Research at Cardiff's School of Biosciences, spoke of the grant's importance to his research: "Cancer stem cells are a small population of tumour cells believed to be responsible for the formation, growth and spread of cancers. Our work is aimed at understanding the fundamental properties of this important cell type and has the potential to transform the way we tackle cancer.

"The funding received will help us to continue on our research journey to better understand the function and application of our research findings, testing novel therapies based on nanoparticle technology to develop novel anti-tumour strategies."

Dr Smalley's research strives to identify what drives the differences between various types of breast cancer, and what drives the differences between individual tumour cells within a breast cancer. He said: "The grant will go a long way to supporting my research aims, which are to clarify the origins of breast cancer stem cells and to develop more targeted therapeutics."  

"Defining the biological basis of these differences will help better target current therapies to those who really need them while avoiding unnecessary treatment for those who do not. It will also enable us to develop therapies targeting specific tumour and cell types, including tumour cells with stem cell-like properties."

The Director of the School of Biosciences, Prof Ole Petersen FRS, said:

"Alan Clarkes' substantial programme grant award confirms his star status as one of Europe's top cancer biologists. We need a much better fundamental understanding of the signalling pathways that lead to cancer and Alan's exciting new five-year programme is likely to provide much needed new insights that will be the foundations for new therapeutic approaches.

"The award of the new programme grant to Matthew Smalley, who was recently recruited to Cardiff, is also very pleasing and confirms our faith in the huge potential his work has in clarifying the different mechanisms underlying different types of breast cancer, which again will have a considerable impact on future therapies. I congratulate Alan and Matthew on their very significant achievements."

Cancer Research UK programme grants are awarded to outstanding individuals with an established scientific track record and are generally intended to be held for five years.