In 2015 Cancer Research UK launched a series of £20m awards for researchers attempting game changing research. These are the most ambitious grants in the world allowing international research teams to take on the biggest problems in cancer research, the Grand Challenges.
Seven Grand Challenges were set in consultation with patients, innovators and the scientific community, and multidisciplinary teams from across the Globe were tasked to submit proposals to tackle them – of the 56 bids received, 9 pioneering teams were shortlisted.
The idea was originally to fund only 1 team, but the independent scientific advisory panel were so impressed by the quality and potential of the shortlisted teams that they recommended an increase in the investment from one award to FOUR!!
Thanks to the generous support of partners and donors it was possible to fund not just one, but four exceptional teams.
As 10 of the world’s leading scientists deliberated on their decision to select the first winners of the Grand Challenge awards after months of hard work and sleepless nights, explains Dr Rick Klausner, chair of the Grand Challenge Advisory Board said:
“We were almost pinching ourselves when we read the winning teams’ applications. They were among the most exciting I’ve ever read, and I’ve been reading and reviewing funding applications for almost 40 years!”
Researchers at the University of Manchester carefully studied a network of proteins that kick into action when cancer cells in the lab are treated with a class of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes*. These drugs are commonly used to treat several cancers – including breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. But not all cancers respond to them, and it’s difficult to predict which patients will benefit.
The Cancer Research UK-funded scientists teased apart this network in a range of cancers** to try and find out why some can survive taxane-based chemotherapy.
The team identified one particular component of this network – a protein called Bcl-xL – which helps the cancer cells survive treatment by blocking the self-destruct process that normally kills cells when treated with chemotherapy drugs. Read the rest of this entry
A pair of cancer drugs can shrink tumours in nearly 60% of people with advanced melanoma, a new trial has suggested.
An international trial on 945 patients found treatment with ipilimumab and nivolumab stopped the cancer advancing for nearly a year in 58% of cases.
The results of new cancer drugs trials have been hailed as spectacular, with one expert claiming the potential for a cure for the disease is “definitely there”.
Immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune system to attack cancerous cells, proved so effective that in one British-led trial, more than half of patients with advanced melanoma saw tumours shrink or brought under control, according to researchers.
The trials, a number of which have been presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago, could herald a “new era” for cancer treatments.