New cancer research centre for Oxford

It has been announced that a new £138m cancer research facility is to be built in the city.

The centre will be built as part of the Churchill hospital in East Oxford, with expectation that it may become a leading facility of its kind in the world for early-stage cancer patients.  It is hoped that the new research centre will help attract the academic talent of Oxford and strengthen the city’s position as a cancer research hub.

Addressing the Tory Party Conference, Chancellor George Osborne said he was prepared to put millions into the scheme, seen as pivotal in the battle against cancer. From this, it may be that the centre will be open within three years.

The bid for the centre was only submitted to the Government two months ago by a consortium including Oxford University, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and Cancer Research UK.

The new Oxford centre will focus on new treatments, diagnosis, imaging and therapy.

On the Wolfson College website, Professor Giles McKenna, who will lead the new centre, said: “This will be a fully comprehensive cancer centre for research involving patients with early-stage cancer.

“Potential new cancer drugs have traditionally been first tried out on patients with end-stage disease and results are often disappointing. Even when responses are seen the responses are often quite brief.

“We want instead to look at how new drug candidates might be combined with the latest surgery or radiotherapy techniques, still the mainstays of curative cancer treatment. We also want to develop new ways for imaging cancer so that imaging can be used to select and monitor treatment to be able to tell very quickly whether the right treatment has been selected.

“We hope this new approach could see a change in how new treatments are developed for cancer, by combining them with the best available curative treatments.”

James Jopling, a spokesman for Breakthrough Cancer Research, said a research centre focusing on early cancer is very  important, “because if we can identify and treat cancer early than many more lives can be saved”.

A student at New College [who did not wish to be named] said: “This is an important step towards fighting cancer. I think it is great to have a world class research centre nearby so that all latest innovations can be implemented into the treatment as it is discovered”

Work to find a suitable site for the cancer centre on the Churchill site or nearby is now under way.