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UCL gifted £1m for major research project on rare cancer

15 February 2018

A UK wide research network for osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer primarily affecting teenagers and young adults, is to be set up by UCL thanks to a generous gift of £1m from The Tom Prince Cancer Trust.  

The Tom Prince Cancer Trust

The Trust was set up in memory of Tom Prince, who at 15 years old sadly passed away from osteosarcoma in 2004. 

The current treatment for osteosarcoma is chemotherapy followed by surgery and in spite of extensive research into cancers, there has not been a new treatment in almost 30 years.

The gift will be used to establish the Tom Prince Osteosarcoma Research Project, led by Professor Adrienne Flanagan (Head of the Research Department of Pathology at the UCL Cancer Institute), a leading figure within the field of osteosarcoma.

The project will involve a comprehensive, large-scale genomic study of osteosarcoma across the UK. Integration of the results from each patient will provide a molecular profile of the individual’s disease. The research, taken with clinical outcomes, is expected to provide opportunities for the development of more personalised treatments for patients with osteosarcoma.

Professor Flanagan with Dr Peter Campbell (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) and colleagues have already undertaken the largest genomic study of osteosarcoma to date, as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. This study was recently published in Nature Communications and the research to be undertaken now will build on this knowledge and experience.

The Tom Prince Cancer Trust is based in Portsmouth and led by Clinton and Adele Prince, parents of Tom Prince. The Trust has fundraised £1m for research into the rare disease through the support of friends, family and the wider community. In July 2016, just over a decade since the Trust was founded, the family hit their target. 

“We are honoured that The Tom Prince Cancer Trust have enabled us to establish an extensive research programme in the memory of Tom. Their gift is the largest donation to osteosarcoma research in the UK. This project is truly ground-breaking and will bring together key partners across the UK with the primary goal of accelerating research into osteosarcoma which will lead to an improvement in treatment and survival of patients with the disease,” said Professor Adrienne Flanagan (UCL Cancer Institute).

“We’re very pleased and excited to gift £1 million to UCL, to further the understanding and treatment of osteosarcoma. Reaching our target means so much to so many, therefore we took our time to carefully consider the options, ensuring the funds went to the best possible place. UCL has world-leading expertise with Professor Flanagan and her team, as well as excellent technology and systems,” said Clinton and Adele Prince, Founders and Trustees of The Tom Prince Cancer Trust.

“UCL is delighted to have such a close relationship with The Tom Prince Cancer Trust. The Prince family and everyone who has supported them have gone all out to hit their fundraising total over the past 13 years and reaching this £1 million milestone is incredibly meaningful for everyone. Their hard work will make a real, tangible difference to research into this disease, and ultimately have a far-reaching impact on the lives of many other families affected by osteosarcoma,” said Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL.

UCL is one of Europe’s largest and most productive centres of biomedical research, and home to the UCL Cancer Institute which brings together over 300 scientists working together to develop world-class basic and translational cancer research. 

UCL scientists have an international reputation for leading cancer research and the UCL Cancer Institute, where the research project will be based, is uniquely positioned to leverage the multidisciplinary nature of UCL in engaging a range of disciplines to transform cancer research.

In September 2016, UCL launched its most ambitious philanthropic fundraising campaign to date to enable the university to realise some of its biggest ambitions. Aligned with the priorities of UCL 2034, the campaign will focus on long-term fundraising and community engagement focused on four main themes – health, students, disruptive thinking and London.

Partnering with The Tom Prince Cancer Trust to further the understanding of osteosarcoma is a brilliant example of how, with philanthropic support, the research undertaken at UCL has the potential to transform the lives of cancer patients now and in the future. 

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  • Caption: Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL with Clinton and Adele Prince, The Tom Prince Cancer Trust (credit: UCL)

Media contact 

Natasha Downes

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3844

Email: n.downes [at] ucl.ac.uk