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University of Glasgow Scientists Lead The Way In Next Generation Radiotherapy Research

Glasgow scientists have been awarded a major cash boost from Cancer Research UK to pioneer new radiotherapy technologies and techniques that could help more people survive cancer in the future.

Experts from the Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre* are set to receive £3.5 million over the next five years.

Glasgow has been chosen to be one of just seven centres of excellence in a UK-wide network that will accelerate advances in radiotherapy research. Centres will also be located in Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds and London.

Cancer Research UK is investing a total of £56 million in Cancer Research UK RadNet – the charity’s largest ever investment in radiotherapy research.

More than 130,000 patients in the UK are treated with radiotherapy on the NHS every year. In its simplest form, the treatment works by targeting tumours with x-ray radiation, killing cancer cells by irreversibly damaging their DNA.

Cancer Research UK supported some of the earliest research into the treatment of cancer with radiation and pioneered the first use of radiotherapy in the 1920s.

In Glasgow, the funding will support researchers to develop and test new radiotherapy-drug combinations and new radiotherapy techniques. Scientists and doctors will focus on improving radiotherapy for patients with hard-to-treat cancers and cancers with poor prognosis, such as lung, brain, pancreatic, and head and neck cancers. And they will carry out research to develop personalised radiotherapy treatment, by developing new imaging techniques and identifying molecular and genetic signatures of cancers that can predict how well each patient will respond to radiotherapy.

Professor Anthony Chalmers, Chair of Clinical Oncology at the University of Glasgow, is lead researcher for the centre which could help to save the lives of more people with cancer in the city – and across the UK – in the future.

Professor Anthony Chalmers, Chair of Clinical Oncology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, said: “CRUK’s new RadNet funding scheme is a massive opportunity for the UK radiotherapy research community and I am delighted and very proud that Glasgow has secured £3.5 million to become one of the RadNet centres of excellence.

“Radiotherapy is a powerful and effective treatment that cures tens of thousands of cancer patients every year, but until recently it has received very little research funding. We will use this new funding to develop and test new ways of intensifying radiotherapy treatments so that more patients can be cured, and will focus on patients with cancers that are currently difficult to treat.

“One approach will be to combine precision radiotherapy with molecularly targeted drugs to eradicate tumour cells without damaging the healthy tissues. Another strategy will be to use sophisticated imaging techniques to identify which patients are not responding well; these patients can then be given more intensive treatment in the right place at the right time.”

Professor Owen Sansom, Director of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences and the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “The University of Glasgow is incredibly proud to be part of the RadNet network and our thanks go to CRUK for this incredible investment. Here in Glasgow we have built a strong team of radiotherapy researchers who are starting to make important progress in treating patients with aggressive or advanced cancers. The new RadNet funding from CRUK will increase the size of our research team and provide us with the very latest equipment, putting us in the best possible position to develop new and better treatments for cancer patients.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Radiotherapy is a cornerstone of cancer medicine, with around 4 in 10 patients receiving it as part of their treatment. The launch of our network marks a new era of radiotherapy research in the UK. Scientists will combine advances in our understanding of cancer biology with cutting-edge technology to make this treatment more precise and effective than ever before”.

Cancer Research UK supported some of the earliest research into the treatment of cancer with radiation and pioneered the first use of radiotherapy in the 1920s. In its simplest form, this treatment works by blasting tumours with x-ray radiation, killing cancer cells by irreversibly damaging their DNA. Today, over 130,000 patients are treated with radiotherapy on the NHS every year.

Victoria Steven, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Glasgow, said: “This award is fantastic recognition of the world leading radiotherapy research taking place in Glasgow, which will help shape a better future for people with cancer through new technologies and treatments.

“People in the city have every right to feel proud of the ground-breaking research being carried out on their doorstep and of their fundraising efforts, which are helping to beat the disease.”

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