Southampton scientists are leading a team of international experts who have been awarded £4 million from Cancer Research UK for new immunotherapy treatments over the next five years.
This is part of a £16 million UK-wide initiative from Cancer Research UK’s Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards to help the fight the most difficult to treat cancers, focusing on melanoma, lung cancer and oesophageal cancers, for which new treatments are desperately needed.
The cutting-edge research into innovative immunotherapies is already widely known, which focuses on awaking the patient’s immune system and using its power to kill cancer.
Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director for research funding at Cancer Research UK, said “Effective partnerships are crucial for delivering the greatest science and boosting advancements in fighting cancer. We’re excited to be investing in collaborative and innovative research in Southampton and across the UK. It’s by working together and uniting expertise that we will accelerate cutting-edge research and save more lives.”
The new funding will help the researchers investigate why some tumours respond so well to immunotherapy and aims to identify patients who are more likely to benefit from these types of treatment, and finding ways of improving effectiveness for more people.
The research project will utilise the new Centre for Cancer Immunology, currently being built on the Southampton General Hospital site and due for opening in 2017. The Centre will bring leading cancer scientiststogether and enable interdisciplinary teams to expand clinical trials to develop lifesaving drugs.
University of Southampton Professor Tim Elliott, Director of the Centre for Cancer Immunology, is a lead researcher for the new project. He said:
We’re delighted to have been awarded this grant from Cancer Research UK to further our understanding of how immunotherapies work. This investment is vital to help us improve on these treatments and help avoid any unnecessary side effects for patients. We need to understand why immunotherapies can be so successful in treating some people – making even advanced cancer vanish without a trace – but not as effective in others. Research such as this could ultimately lead to better ways to tailor treatment to individuals, giving them the best possible chance to beat their cancer.