Future of cancer research in Yorkshire receives £8.9 million funding boost
- The University of Sheffield and Yorkshire Cancer Research have announced seven world-leading research studies that aim to help more people survive cancer through new solutions in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment
- The pioneering research will help attract talented cancer researchers and experts to the region, for the benefit of everyone living in Yorkshire and beyond
The future of cancer research in Yorkshire has received a significant boost following a commitment of £8.9 million in new funding.
The University of Sheffield and Yorkshire Cancer Research have announced seven world-leading research studies that will aim to help more people survive cancer by exploring new solutions in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The pioneering research will also help attract talented cancer researchers and experts to the region, for the benefit of everyone living in Yorkshire and beyond.
The announcement comes as healthcare organisations, local communities and people affected by cancer across the world join together to mark World Cancer Day on Sunday 4 February 2024.
Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “Sheffield is uniquely positioned to accelerate and improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people living with cancer.
"Early work pioneered right here in the city, such as the groundbreaking drug Lynparza, is now saving thousands of lives around the world.
"Working with Yorkshire Cancer Research, this important fund is a tremendous opportunity for the University to drive forward and grow its internationally renowned translational cancer research for the benefit of patients in the region and across the globe."
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “This new funding will help create a hub of groundbreaking cancer research in Yorkshire, supported by the very best expertise and knowledge.
“Sadly, people are more likely to have their lives cut short by cancer in Yorkshire than almost anywhere else in England. Evidence shows that people who receive care in research active hospitals do better. And by bringing more clinical trials to Yorkshire, patients living here can benefit first from the latest innovations and developments.”
The new funding will help researchers study several key areas, including improving understanding of how childhood cancer develops, testing whether a mobile app can help patients manage immunotherapy side effects and identifying how new technology can help to detect mouth cancer early.
Other studies will investigate whether new treatments can stop the spread of bowel and lung cancer and explore new ways to improve the treatment of breast cancer in young women.
Professor Janet Brown, Professor of Translational Medical Oncology at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who is leading one of the studies, said: "In recent years, immunotherapy drugs, which cause a patient’s own immune system to kill their cancer cells, have revolutionised treatment of some cancers, leading to much improved responses and survival and increasing numbers of patients are expected to receive immunotherapy in the future. However, some patients experience side effects which can be serious and need to be recognised and treated as early as possible.
"Our research team is designing and providing a special app which patients will upload onto their phones or tablets. They will also be provided with home monitoring devices for measurement of blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation which will empower patients to keep in regular touch with their clinical team and report symptoms and test results as well as their quality of life and identify any problems early.
"Our whole research team is delighted to have been awarded this funding which means that we are able to develop this exciting new approach which can potentially deliver real benefit in improving the lives of thousands of cancer patients across Yorkshire and beyond in the years ahead."
Professor Sarah Danson, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Sheffield, who is leading another of the new studies, said: "The Ex vivo determined cancer therapy (EVIDENT) study involves taking a tumour sample and testing a wide range of anticancer drugs, old and new, outside of the patient.
"It has the potential to enable every patient to get the best treatment for their specific cancer, using a model which can incorporate the diversity observed in the actual population."
The research has been made possible following the success of three cancer drugs discovered at the University of Sheffield with funding from the charity.
Following clinical trials, the drugs, called Lynparza, Zejula and Talzenna, have now become tailored treatments for cancer patients with hereditary cancers and are undergoing further trials to treat a wider range of cancer types.
Dr Scott added: “It’s thanks to the generosity of the people of Yorkshire that the charity was able to fund the initial project in Sheffield that led to the discovery of PARP inhibitors which are now helping people with ovarian, breast and prostate cancer throughout the world.”
This new ground-breaking research will help Sheffield deliver its vision set out in the University's cancer research strategy. Through the strategy, the University aims to prevent cancer-related deaths by undertaking high quality research, leading to more effective treatments, as well as methods to better prevent and detect cancer and improve quality of life.
The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.