October 4, 2008

North Plays Part in Pounds 50m Cancer Fight ; Universities to Lead Research

By Dan Thomson

NORTH scientists will receive more than pounds 2m to develop pioneering cancer imaging technology, it was announced today.

Over the next five years, Newcastle and Durham Universities will work together in a pounds 50m nationwide initiative to establish the UK as a world leader in cancer imaging research.

The technology, which will be developed in the North East at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University, has a number of uses in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, such as allowing doctors to see drugs working within the patient.

It can also be used to track the spread of cancer and watch cells in action by tracing radioactive markers in the body. It is hoped the imaging research will lead to scientists being able to quickly identify the treatments that work best for individual patients.

Dr Ross Maxwell, of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, is the lead scientist in the joint Newcastle University and Durham University research programme.

He said: "We're delighted to have been awarded this grant to further our research in cancer imaging. Investing in this important area is vital for improving many aspects of a cancer patient's journey - from detection to treatment.

"We will use the new funding to help us develop new cancer drugs in parallel with new scanning methods to track the way they work in the body.

"A team of doctors, nurses, and scientists will work together developing the new imaging techniques.

"They will help us to identify which patients would be suitable for new drugs being developed at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research and then allow us to see if these drugs are working as they should within the patient."

The funding will also be used at Newcastle University's Campus for Aging and Vitality at the General Hospital and at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

This will involve the use of PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanners, which have received more than pounds 2m funding from One NorthEast, and MRI scanners at Newcastle General Hospital.

Chris Pywell, Head of Strategic Economic Change at One NorthEast, said: "Newcastle and Durham universities are leading the development of cancer research, regionally and nationally, and the award of this significant funding package is a real boost to everything they and One NorthEast are trying to achieve."

The national initiative is being funded by a pounds 30m investment by Cancer Research UK and pounds 15m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. A further pounds 3m has come from the Medical Research Council and pounds 1.3m from the National Institute for Health Research.

Cancer Research UK chief executive Harpal Kumar said: "Imaging is fast becoming one of the most effective means of detecting cancer early and of determining which treatment works for which patient.

"Cancer Research UK has identified imaging research as a priority and we believe this substantial investment over the next five years will reap many benefits."

(c) 2008 The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.