UCL News


New funding boosts head and neck cancer research

22 July 2009


UCL Cancer Institute ucl.ac.uk/cancer" target="_self">UCL Cancer Institute

UCL has appointed a new Clinical Senior Lecturer to lead the development of clinical trials relating to head and neck cancer, which account for six per cent of all cancers in the UK.

From September 2009, Dr Martin Forster will join the UCL Cancer Institute to lead the development of new early-phase clinical trials for these malignancies. UCL researchers at the Cancer Institute are already studying the genetic make-up of the complex tumours that characterise head and neck cancer.

A phase I clinical trial is also soon to open for patients with recurrent or advanced head and neck cancer at the new Clinical Research Facility at UCL Hospital.

It is hoped that this research will have an impact on the future management and outcome for these rarely profiled cancers.

Head and neck cancers include those of the tongue, throat, tonsils and larynx. They are mainly associated with smoking, but a link has recently been identified to the same virus which causes cervical cancer (i.e. human papillomavirus). The overall survival for these cancers has not improved over the past decade.

UCL Cancer Institute and UCH are working to develop understanding of the genes which mutate to cause these tumours, in order to develop new drugs for these types of cancer, which are less advanced than those for more common malignancies such as breast, colon and prostate cancers.

The UCL Cancer Institute is uniquely placed to analyse thousands of genes in one experiment, using high throughput sequencing technology which will ultimately leading to the identification of potential new targets for future therapy.

UCL research into head and neck cancers received a funding boost in July through a donation from the Paul Southgate Research Fund of over £80,000 raised through a celebrity charity golf match hosted by Debbie Seaman at the Parque de Floresta in Portugal. The Paul Southgate Research Fund was established by Lynne Southgate in memory of her husband Paul who was treated by Professor Chris Boshoff, Director of the UCL Cancer Institute, and his team. The event will be broadcast on Sky Sports on 28 and 29 July.

For more information about UCL Cancer Institute research and fundraising activities, follow the link at the top of this article.

Image: The award-winning UCL Cancer Research building


UCL context
The UCL Cancer Institute was established in 2007. It aims:

  • to carry out internationally recognised cancer research and promote the translation of basic research discoveries into new strategies to prevent, diagnose, monitor and cure human cancer
  • to train a new generation of cancer researchers and cancer clinician scientists
  • to promote links with partner teaching hospitals, and exploit the wealth of biological material for genetic, genomic and other studies
  • to influence the development and implementation of a UCL-wide policy on cancer research and to consolidate cancer sciences within a single entity at UCL
  • to engage and educate the local community in Central London in aspects of cancer research, prevention and care.

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