Research and development into tumour profiling will lead to improved cancer care

Six new collaborative research and development projects are set to receive nearly £6 million of government funding in the latest stage of a major five-year initiative to ensure that the UK is a world leader in the development of personalised medicine.

The projects to receive the funding, from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board, will carry out R&D in the areas of tumour profiling and data capture. This will help to improve cancer care by providing cancer specialists with information specific to their patient’s tumour, enabling more targeted treatment to be provided.

The investment is the third to be made through the Technology Strategy Board-managed Stratified Medicine Innovation Platform (SMIP), an initiative which will oversee an investment of over £60 million of government funding over 5 years in innovative research and development. The first investments, totalling £3.7 million, were in the fields of inflammatory biomarkers for more effective drugs and business models & value systems.

The consortia carrying out the projects will be led by Affymetrix UK Ltd, Aridhia Informatics Ltd, IDBS, Life Technologies Corporation, Oxford Gene Technology and Source BioScience UK Ltd.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:

“Routine comprehensive profiling of tumours upon diagnosis has the potential to open up more effective treatment options and, together with related clinical data, could dramatically increase our understanding of the power of targeted therapies, which could then be applied to drug development. These projects will lead to the development of products or services which can be readily adopted by NHS commissioners, for the improvement of patient outcomes.”

The commercial solutions from these projects will support the aims of Cancer Research UK’s own Stratified Medicines Programme, which aims to test up to 9,000 tumour samples in order to demonstrate how molecular diagnosis of NHS patient’s tumours could be scaled up to provide a national service, whilst also consenting patients for permission to link their genetic and clinical data to inform research in the future.

James Peach, director of Cancer Research UK’s stratified medicine programme, said:

“We’re delighted to be working alongside the Technology Strategy Board, whose £5.8 million investment in these groundbreaking projects is a vital part of our ambition to make molecular diagnosis of tumours a routine part of care for all cancer patients in the UK."

He added: “Investing in tumour profiling will give us new ways to test tumours in the NHS, and the data capture work will allow us to develop better targeted cancer treatments in future. All of these investments fit with the Cancer Research UK programme, which will demonstrate how these technologies can be used in practice to help cancer patients. This is a great example of national collaboration across the public, private and charity sectors, all working together to beat cancer.”

The partners in the Stratified Medicine Innovation Platform are the Technology Strategy Board, the Department of Health (England), the Scottish Government Health Directorates, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), Cancer Research UK and Arthritis Research UK.

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