PIONEERING cancer research in Edinburgh and Glasgow has been recognised with a multimillion-pound cash boost.

The ground-breaking work was chosen by a panel of international experts out of 18 collaborations in the UK to be awarded the funding.

Leading charity Cancer Research UK and the Chief Scientist Office now plan to invest almost £3 million over the next five years in the work at the Edinburgh and Glasgow Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs).

The grant will allow doctors, nurses and scientists in the two cities to continue to develop better, more targeted cancer treatments and to test and develop experimental new treatments, including immunotherapies, for a wide variety of cancers.

“This crucial investment is recognition of the fantastic research taking place in Scotland,” said Victoria Steven of Cancer Research UK.

“One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives – so it’s reassuring to know that, thanks to our supporters, Cancer Research UK is able to fund some of the best and most promising research here in Scotland, to help more people survive.

“Cancer survival has doubled since the early 1970s in the UK, and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress – but every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on donations from the public and the tireless fundraising of our supporters.”

Every year, about 31,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland, and about 15,900 die of the disease.

ECMCs across the UK give people with cancer access to cutting-edge care by testing new treatments and new ways of detecting and monitoring the disease and how it responds to treatment through early-phase clinical trials.

The Edinburgh ECMC is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, and the Glasgow ECMC is a partnership between the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Each ECMC is set to receive almost £1.5m over the next five years.

“We are thrilled that Edinburgh has secured this funding,” said Professor David Cameron, co-lead of Edinburgh ECMC. “This award represents a critical investment in our research infrastructure, equipping us with the key laboratory and clinical tools needed to advance the understanding and treatment of cancer for the benefit of people in Scotland and beyond. It will be used to support essential posts in the ECMC – such as research nurses, data managers and specialised laboratory technicians – that will help us develop and test new treatments for a variety of different cancers, including ovarian, breast and bowel cancers.”

Professor Jeff Evans, Glasgow ECMC lead, said his team were proud that Glasgow had been awarded ECMC status.

“Over the next five years we will increase the number of clinical trials we’re running and this investment means we will be able to continue our work developing new cancer drugs – getting discoveries from the laboratory to clinical trials involving patients and learning as much as possible from our patients to initiate new research,” he said.

Dr Alan McNair, senior research manager at the Chief Scientist Office, added: “We are delighted to partner with Cancer Research UK in funding the ECMCs in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Early phase clinical trials are essential if new treatments for cancer are to be developed. The ECMCs are uniquely placed to deliver these trials, and this investment means that Scotland will continue to play a leading role in the ECMC network.”


Mother-of-two signed up for trial that could help others avoid chemotherapy

EDINBURGH mother-of-two Sarah Glendinning was diagnosed with breast cancer in May and has agreed to take part in the research in the hope it will help others.

The 34-year-old, who is mum to Kairan, five, and Jaimie, three, said her diagnosis felt like a hammer blow.

“It was a complete shock when they told me I had cancer,” she said. “My first thought was, I can’t die – I’ve got two small kids.”

She is now more than halfway through six rounds of chemotherapy at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre in the city’s Western General Hospital.

Despite finding her treatment tough, she immediately said yes when she was asked to take part in a research study.

Scientists are looking for specific genes and proteins in tissue and blood samples from breast cancer patients that could act as markers to help them identify which cancers are more likely to respond to chemotherapy.

This could help some women avoid having chemotherapy before surgery – and the side effects that go with it – if it’s less likely to work for them.

Welcoming the £3 million investment in the Edinburgh and Glasgow Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres, Glendinning said: “I wouldn’t be having the treatment I’m having now if it wasn’t for research. Cancer is one of the toughest things you’ll ever face in your life. The more money that goes into research, the more chance we’ve got of beating it.”