Personalized and powerful: UK to lead next-generation radiotherapy research

November 03, 2019

The UK will be transformed into a global hub for radiotherapy research, pioneering the use of the latest techniques such as FLASH radiotherapy and artificial intelligence, with a new £56 million* research network announced by Cancer Research UK today (Monday).

The network, Cancer Research UK RadNet, is the charity's largest ever investment in radiotherapy research and will accelerate the development of advanced radiotherapy techniques, challenging the boundaries of this mainstay treatment through world-first exploratory projects.

It will unite seven centres of excellence across the country**: the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford, the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre (a partnership between UCL, Queen Mary University of London, King's College London the Francis Crick Institute) and The Institute of Cancer Research, London in partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Radiotherapy is a cornerstone of cancer medicine, with around 3 in 10 patients receiving it as part of their primary treatment. The launch of our network marks a new era of radiotherapy research in the UK. Scientists will combine advances in our understanding of cancer biology with cutting-edge technology to make this treatment more precise and effective than ever before".

Cancer Research UK supported some of the earliest research into radiotherapy, pioneering the use of radium to treat cancer in the 1920s. Modern radiotherapy works by targeting tumours with x-ray radiation, killing cancer cells by irreversibly damaging their DNA. Today, over 130,000 patients are treated with radiotherapy on the NHS every year.

Cancer Research UK RadNet aims to improve cancer survival by optimising and personalising radiotherapy. The centres will spearhead the development of new techniques for delivering radiotherapy and investigate new radiotherapy-drug combinations, including immunotherapies. Scientists will also focus on reducing the long-term side effects associated with this treatment, improving patients' quality of life during and after treatment.

The innovative research that Cancer Research UK RadNet will deliver includes:Cancer Research UK RadNet will be a beacon, attracting leading researchers from across the globe to boost radiotherapy research capacity in the UK. £13 million has been allocated to form new research groups and fund additional PhD students in Manchester, London and Cambridge, ensuring the UK's radiotherapy research community continues to thrive. The network will promote collaboration between diverse scientific fields, with a share of £4 million available to all centres for joint research projects, conferences and secondments between locations.

Dr Adrian Crellin, Cancer Research UK Trustee and Former Vice-President of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: "I've seen first-hand how successful radiotherapy can be for patients that I treat, but it's been frustrating to see the UK lagging behind other countries when it comes to prioritising research into this vital treatment. Cancer Research UK's investment will overhaul radiotherapy research in the UK to bring the next generation of treatments to patients sooner."
For media enquiries contact Thomas Bullen in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 5171 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to editor:

Cancer Research UK's executive director of research and innovation, Dr Iain Foulkes, is announcing the radiotherapy network at 11am today (Monday) at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Glasgow, during the session Celebrating collaborative radiotherapy research in the UK - CTRad 10 years on.

*over five years

**the Universities of Manchester and Cambridge and the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre have been awarded Radiation Research Unit status, receiving funding for infrastructure and research programmes. The Universities of Glasgow, Leeds and Oxford and The Institute of Cancer Research, London/The Royal Marsden have been awarded Radiation Research Centre status, receiving funding for infrastructure.

The University of Manchester has been awarded £16.5m, research will include:The Cancer Research UK City of London Centre has been awarded £14m, research will include:The London partners will also work closely with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust.

The University of Cambridge has been awarded £8m, research will include:The University of Glasgow has been awarded £3.5m, research will include:The University of Leeds has been awarded £3.5m, research will include:The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have been awarded £3.5m, research will include:The University of Oxford has been awarded £3.5m, research will include:About Cancer Research UKFor further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cancer Research UK

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