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World Cancer Day 2017 "An Act of Unity"

Professor Ruth Plummer - Clinical Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine

Newcastle is an exciting and vibrant place to do cancer research, with the focus of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research being translational research – so having the very direct aim of developing new, better and less toxic treatments and taking them into the clinic so patients can benefit.  The CRUK Newcastle Centre and Newcastle ECMC are focussed on bringing together the outputs from the world class scientific cancer research we undertake, and designing and delivering the right trials to the right patients with these new treatments.

We are able to do this as cancer research receives fantastic infrastructure support from both Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust, so we have world class scientific research laboratories, like the newly opened Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, dedicated clinical trial units for both adults and children with cancer and opportunities to collaborate across the university in cutting edge science such as single cell genomics.

Our research is grouped in 4 themes; childhood cancer, adult cancer, drug discovery, and clinical trials and biomarkers.  In childhood cancer we have led practice changing research in leukaemia, medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma, and in adult cancer our important research areas include hepatocellular and prostate cancer and also the treatment of cancer in the elderly.

Our CRUK funded drug discovery team involves chemists and biological scientists, working with clinicians and industry partners, to find new targets and discover new drugs to treat cancers.  It was very exciting for the whole team in Newcastle when rucaparib, our first “Geordie cancer drug”, and the first ever PARP inhibitor to go into the clinic, was licensed by the FDA in December 2016 as a “breakthrough medicine”, the culmination of more than 20 years of cancer research.

The Clinical trials and biomarker team is the final common pathway for our excellent science research to come into the clinic and for us to start treating patients.  This is the focus of the Newcastle CRUK Centre and ECMC, where that precious funding supports the team which treat patients with new drugs and process samples from the clinic. We do this in partnership with the University and hospital, and also, very importantly, two local charities, North of England Children’s Cancer Research and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.   A unique feature of the Newcastle clinical trials and biomarker team is that we work across the age boundaries, with trials for patients open at both the children’s and adult hospital, and linked projects studying the side effects of cancer treatments in both the short and long term.

So for us it is truly “An Act of Unity”– working with our patients and cancer PPI group to find better treatments - uniting all the cancer research we do across the University and Trust to benefit our patients in the region and beyond.

Sat 4 February is World Cancer Day 2017 – Play your part in one incredible act of unity.

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