Birmingham to be centre of new cancer clinical trial network

Birmingham to be centre of new cancer clinical trial network

Cancer charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is investing £2.3 million into a national network of clinical trial centres with the aim of improving poor survival rates seen with many forms of leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The network will include 13 leading hospitals in the UK with a hub at the University of Birmingham, where a team of experts will manage and co-ordinate world class clinical trials to speed up delivery of new treatments to blood cancer patients.

Blood cancers are the most common cause of cancer deaths in the under 35s with new figures from Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research showing that12,000 people die of these cancers each year in the UK. There has been little improvement in the survival rates for most forms of blood cancer in the last decade.

As there are so many different types of blood cancers it has been seen as uneconomical to develop drugs for many types. When new drugs are available clinical trials are not set up due to difficulties in recruiting enough patients at a single hospital to make them workable. Trials that are started can take as long as 10 years to complete.

Professor Charlie Craddock is Director of the centre for Clinical Haematology at the University of Birmingham and Clinical Trials Adviser for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. He said:

Every doctor will tell you that they are routinely turning down promising new drugs because they don’t have the resources to conduct early stage clinical trials. We have a moral case for getting new drugs out there as soon as possible – if you have a relative with a blood cancer, you don’t want life-saving treatment available in ten years, you want it now.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital is one of the centres participating in the clinical trials network. Being part of the network will increase the access of patients in Birmingham to treatments. Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be allocated a trail co-ordinator to recruit patients who are not responding to current treatment. Patients with even very rare blood cancers will now be able to be treated with new drugs at the hospital, rather than having to travel to get on a clinical trial suited to them.

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research are working with pharmaceutical companies and NHS hospitals to deliver up to £50 million of promising new drugs to patients over the next two years through the network, creating up to 500 jobs. The first trials in the network are expected to begin by the end of the year.

Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, said:

The clinical trial process currently lacks a systematic national approach. Our investment will set in place a unique infrastructure to co-ordinate world class trials and deliver ‘Tomorrow’s Treatments Today’ – giving more blood cancer patients a future.

Birmingham is already a Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Centre of Excellence, with the charity investing more than £7 million into research in Birmingham. Birmingham is also one of the UK’s largest transplant centres. Stem cell transplants are often the last chance of a cure for many patients with blood cancers.

The initiative ‘Tomorrow’s Treatments Today’ intends to improve blood cancer survival rates by giving patients access to cutting edge treatments at their local hospital, more quickly.

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