On Thursday February 4 Dundee became Scotland’s first link in a unique chain of Cancer Research UK Centres that are being launched across the UK. The launch of the Dundee Centre coincided with World Cancer Day.
These new cancer centres will draw together world class research and medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients nationwide.
As the first centre in Scotland, the Dundee Cancer Research UK Centre will help set the pace for national and international progress in bowel, breast and skin cancer. It will build on Dundee’s world class research in the areas of radiotherapy and surgery by focussing on new highly advanced image-guided surgical techniques. The Centre will also lead to the development of an international hub for research into the most serious type of skin cancer (melanoma), making new discoveries in basic cell biology then helping to translate those into new treatments.
Collaboration is the key to the success of the Centre which will enable researchers who do not normally work together to exchange ideas and information more easily. It now brings together researchers and support from University of Dundee, Cancer Research UK and the NHS Tayside.
Professor Irene Leigh, Head of the College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing and chair of the board of the new centre, said: “This is a very exciting development for cancer research in Scotland. The new centre will help us bring together a variety of researchers and clinicians to collaborate and work together to improve the lives of cancer patients across Scotland. By building closer links between scientists and doctors we want to increase the pace of research, leading to improved treatments for patients."
The Centre aims to be a world leader in developing treatments tailored to individual cancer patients based on understanding the biology of the disease and how that varies among patients.
Cancer Research UK already supports research in Dundee but is set to increase its contribution to over £7.5m a year to help develop the Centre.
Professor Peter Downes, Principal of the University of Dundee, said: "The award of Cancer Centre status is the combination of years of effort building world class basic research into the underlying mechanisms of cancer alongside the clinical research needed to translate new knowledge into improved treatment of disease. It exemplifies our strategy to ensure research has a positive impact on society.”
Edinburgh launched its own centre on the 16th June. The Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre will help set the pace for national and international progress in bowel, breast and ovarian cancers. The Centre will build on Edinburgh’s world class research into the genetics and biology of cancer, as well as researching and developing new ways to treat the diseases. Edinburgh becomes the second Centre in Scotland after Dundee launched the first Centre earlier this year.
Scientists at the Centre will also work on tackling the problem of cancer cells spreading (metastases), and developing resistance to drugs, in order to find ways to prevent these common and life-threatening problems.
Collaboration is the key to the success of the Centre which will enable researchers to exchange ideas and information more easily. It brings together researchers and clinicians with support from Cancer Research UK, the University of Edinburgh and the NHS Lothian.
The Centre aims to be a world leader in developing treatments tailored to individual cancer patients based on understanding the biology of the disease and how treatments work, and how these may vary between patients.
Professor David Cameron, professor of Oncology and Head of NHS Lothian Cancer Services, and the Clinical Director of the new Centre, said: “This is a very exciting development for cancer patients and for research in Scotland. The new Centre will help researchers and clinicians to collaborate and work together to improve the lives of cancer patients across Lothian and Scotland. By building closer links between scientists and doctors we want to increase our knowledge about cancer and speed up the pace of research, leading to improved treatments for patients."
Susan Oliver, 58 from Dalkeith, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005 and went into remission after six months of chemotherapy. But when her cancer returned a year later she was given the chance to take part in a new clinical trial at the Edinburgh Western General called PARP 1 inhibitor. Susan took four capsules twice a day while her health was closely monitored with regular trips to hospital for tests.
She said: "I knew it wouldn’t cure my cancer, but the trial has given me two wonderful and healthy years to enjoy and I am so grateful for the opportunity to add to our understanding of cancer and improve the way future patients are treated. The trial might have had serious side effects, or it might have done me no good at all. But it was an opportunity worth taking and I knew that I was in very safe hands here in Edinburgh."
Cancer Research UK already supports research in Edinburgh but is set to increase its contribution to over £5.6million a year to help develop the Centre.
Professor Sir John Savill, Head of the College of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: "I am delighted that the University of Edinburgh is being joined by our closest partners, NHS Lothian, in this exciting new collaboration with Cancer Research UK. This will ensure that research will feed through into improved cancer care as quickly as possible."
Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Huge progress has been made in beating cancer since the charity was formed and we’re determined to carry on. 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. But we continue to welcome the generous donations we receive from the public to ensure we can continue to build on what we have started today."