Accelerating Immunotherapy with £5m award
16 October 2015
Cancer Research UK has awarded one of the first 2015 Centres Network Accelerator Awards to the CRUK-UCL Centre. The award will fund a network of scientists to track immune responses in cancer patients receiving immunotherapy, and to develop more effective treatments with fewer side-effects.
Cancer Research UK has awarded a £5 million Centres Network Accelerator Award to UCL’s Cancer Research UK Centre to fund a new initiative in cancer immunology and immunotherapy that will build a network across various Cancer Centres in London and will be led by Professor Henning Walczak, Scientific Director of the Cancer Research UK – UCL Centre and Professor of Cancer Biology at the UCL Cancer Institute.
The Centres Network Accelerator Award is a new initiative by Cancer Research UK which provides infrastructural support to research centres in order to encourage collaboration between different organisations and boost ‘bench-to-bedside’ science in a particular field of cancer research or type of cancer. UCL’s award will fund research to track immune responses in cancer patients receiving cancer immunotherapy, investigate how and why patients stop responding to these new therapies, and to develop new treatments and safe ways to give them."
Through the Network, scientists and doctors at UCL, UCL Hospitals and the Royal Free Hospital will collaborate with researchers and clinicians at the Francis Crick Institute, King’s College London, Barts Cancer Institute, the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research. Dr Sergio Quezada, Scientific co-Lead on the Cancer Immunotherapy Accelerator Award, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for UCL to lead a network of centres in the advancement of cancer immunotherapy. There has been very exciting progress in this field in recent years but we still need to figure out why some patients respond extremely well to these new therapies whilst others don’t, why these therapies lead to side effects in some patients and not in others and most importantly how to combine them in order to maximise efficacy and reduce toxicities.
By collaborating across different centres in our network we aim to answer exactly these questions. The Cancer Immunotherapy Accelerator brings some of the world’s leading immunologists, cancer biologists and immunotherapists together from centres across London. We hope this will foster research that will result in making cancer immunotherapies even more effective in the future.”
Professor Walczak adds: "I feel very privileged to work on this network with people such as Adrian Hayday, Sergio Quezada, Charles Swanton, Karl Peggs, James Larkin, Kairbaan Hodivala-Dilke, Julian Downward and the many other outstanding scientists who contribute to this network. I am very much looking forward to building this network together with this team. I’ve worked on tumour immunology for 20 years, so I sensed for a long time that if we were ever going to see cures in what is currently still considered incurable cancer, it would have to come from the immune system. I always thought it was the future, but now it’s here and it’s just fantastic to be part of this revolution."