UCL News


UCL cancer trials to get £9m funding boost

15 February 2018

Cancer Research UK is planning to invest nearly £9m over the next five years into research at the Cancer Research UK & UCL Cancer Trials Centre.

UCL Cancer Institute


The announcement is part of a £45 million investment into Cancer Research UK's network of clinical trials units across the UK, one of the charity's largest investments in clinical research to date.

Professor Charles Swanton (UCL Cancer Institute and the Francis Crick Institute), Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Our clinical research enables us to translate discoveries from the lab in order to improve cancer diagnostics and treatments, giving more patients the best chance of beating their disease."

"This is particularly important for patients with hard to treat cancers, including pancreatic, oesophageal, lung and brain tumours, where options for treatment are limited and survival rates remain poor."

The £45m will be divided over five years across eight clinical trials units (CTUs) in Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow, Southampton, Leeds and London (at UCL, the Institute of Cancer Research, and Queen Mary University of London).

One of the studies benefiting from the funding is TRACERx, led by Professor Swanton and Dr Mariam Jamal-Hanjani (UCL Cancer Institute), which aims to transform our understanding of non-small cell lung cancer and take a practical step towards precision medicine. 

The first findings of TRACERx were published last year, and found that unstable chromosomes within lung tumours increase the risk of cancer returning after surgery, and the researchers used the findings to detect relapse long before standard testing.*

The TRACERx research team, which involves the collaboration of more than 225 researchers and clinicians, is seeking to uncover mechanisms of cancer evolution by analysing the intratumour heterogeneity in lung tumours from approximately 850 patients and tracking its evolutionary trajectory from diagnosis through to relapse.

Cancer Research UK's CTUs bring together world leading researchers and clinicians to find life-saving new treatments and tests for cancer patients, specialising in the design, delivery and analysis of trials that bring the latest scientific developments to patients all over the UK. Clinical trials are the only way to find out if a new treatment is safe to use, and if it's better than existing treatments. Each year, around 25,000 people take part in a clinical trial that's supported by Cancer Research UK.

Cancer Research UK's CTUs are a vital part of the charity's research network, helping shape the clinical research landscape in the UK and internationally. Each of the charity's CTUs has a different specialist focus including children's cancer trials, cancer screening, and population research.

The CTC at UCL is a research department within the UCL Cancer Institute and closely associated with the CRUK Centre at UCL. Over the last 15 years the CTC has grown to be one of the largest cancer trials centres in the UK. Trials at the CTC cover a range of areas, most of which are based on evaluating chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. Tumour types covered include, brain cancer, gastrointestinal, gynaecological cancer, head & neck cancer, leukaemia, lung cancer, lymphomas and myeloma.

Professor Jonathan Ledermann, Director of the CRUK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre said: "This award allows us to continue building our programme of clinical trials in cancer. This CRUK infrastructure award helps us leverage funding for trials in a wide range of cancers that includes translating research from the laboratory, multi-centre national and international trials and observational studies to improve the treatment of patients with cancer. With support from Cancer Research UK, we have led over 100 trials in the last five years, some of which have changed clinical practice and increased our knowledge of cancer genomics, particularly in lung cancers."



  • UCL Cancer Institute research laboratory


Media contact

Chris Lane

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9222

Email: chris.lane [at] ucl.ac.uk