Marking World Cancer Day

Thursday 4 February is World Cancer Day and this year the NIHR is highlighting the contributions to cancer research of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs), which it co-funds alongside Cancer Research UK and the Departments of Health for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In 2014/15 the NIHR invested £135m in cancer research, our highest investment area and representing more than 25% of its total research budget.

2016 also marks the NIHR’s tenth year. Much has improved for cancer patients and their families as a result of research since 2006. Here is a selection of the more recent achievements of the ECMCs.

World first blood cancer drug trial reveals life-changing results

An exciting breakthrough was achieved by clinicians at the ECMC Leicester 2015 who led on an international clinical trial for patients with blood cancer, resulting in advances in a new drug treatment being trialled.

Professor Dyer, a member of the ECMC Leicester team, said of the research: “...the development of targeted therapies that increase the chance of therapeutic success and at the same time avoid toxicities generally observed in chemotherapies is the most exciting progress in cancer research.”

Read more on the ECMC website here.

Landmark clinical trial shows gene-targeted drug can treat prostate cancer

In 2015 it was revealed that a pioneering drug developed to treat women with inherited cancers can also benefit men with advanced prostate cancer. The research was carried out by several ECMCs and led by Professor Johann de Bono. The first trials have since been carried out to showcase the benefits of 'precision medicine' in prostate cancer.

Read more on the ECMC website here.

ECMC trials to identify tumour cells in surgery

In 2014 Imperial ECMC developed a ground-breaking technique for accurately identifying tumour cells during surgery, known as iKnife, which helps to prevent cancer cells from regrowing after treatment.  

iKnife was able to deliver tissue identification information in a matter of seconds, in contrast to the 30-40 minutes of current practice, and with an accuracy of 92-100% (compared to 88-90%), depending on the tumour type. The NIHR was amongst the funders of the iKnife development.

Read more on the ECMC website here.

The ECMCs have released a video to explain more about their work and their view on the future of cancer research.


Take a look here.