Funding injection provides major boost in the fight against cancer in Yorkshire

Picture: PA
Picture: PA
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CANCER patients in Yorkshire have today been given six of the best with the announcement of significant new funding for ground-breaking projects that will improve cancer treatment and care across the county.

Yorkshire Cancer Research is investing £2.8m in the six front-line initiatives, which include support for research into priority areas such as lung cancer, early detection and clinical trials, and will involve thousands of people throughout Yorkshire.

The investment largely focuses on centres in Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Hull and York and forms part of the charity’s strategy to tackle cancer inequalities in the region by investing £100m over the next 10 years.

Although the number of Yorkshire people dying as result of cancer has dropped by 10 per cent in the last decade, data collected by Yorkshire Cancer Research reveals the county has one of the highest rates of cancer diagnosis in the UK.

Yorkshire Cancer Research chief executive Charles Rowett said: “We are delighted to announce another significant investment in projects that will tackle some of the major issues we face in our county.

“Lung cancer is one of Yorkshire’s biggest killers and yet research into this disease is massively underfunded. We will continue to focus on this huge problem during 2016.

“We’re also very proud to reveal plans for the first clinical trial of a drug discovered in our region thanks to funding from our charity and other organisations. The trial will bring this innovative treatment one step closer to reaching cancer patients.”

Yorkshire Cancer Research will invest £634,000 in the first clinical trial of a ‘smart-bomb’ drug discovered with funding from the charity at the University of Bradford’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics in 2011. The drug is being progressed into trials by the University’s spin-out company, Incanthera Limited.

The treatment is derived from colchicine, a natural compound occurring in the autumn crocus plant. It is designed to find and destroy solid tumours, sparing healthy tissue.

Patients from across Yorkshire with advanced cancers, including lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer, will be recruited to take part in the trial, which will be led by Professor Chris Twelves at the University of Leeds. The trial will be carried out by clinicians at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Experts at the University of Leeds led by Professor Phil Quirke will aim to save the lives of up to 150 bowel cancer patients each year by significantly improving standards of treatment and care in Yorkshire.

The £1.5m project will ensure the highest quality of treatment is available across the county including state-of-the-art surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Information specific to each patient which will be used to guide treatment and monitor outcomes will also be collected.

Researchers at the University of Leeds, led by Professor Galina Velikova and supported by a £200,000 investment, will use an electronic patient reporting system to monitor the experience of lung cancer patients undergoing two different forms of treatment.

The project will involve patients at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust treated with either keyhole surgery or an innovative new therapy called Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR).

The results of the study will be used to help patients choose the right treatment for them and could have a positive impact on cancer waiting times.

Researchers at the Hull York Medical School led by Professor Michael Lind will investigate whether a mutation found in some lung cancers could be detected using a blood test rather than a biopsy.

Patients with the mutation respond better and experience fewer side-effects when treated with a targeted therapy rather than conventional chemotherapy. Patients currently undergo a biopsy to determine whether they have the mutation, but this invasive procedure can be dangerous, which means not all patients can have one.

Supported by £92,000 from the charity, the team will trial a non-invasive test that can quickly and safely detect the mutation in blood samples. Patients from Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust will be recruited to take part in the trial, due to start later this year.

Yorkshire Cancer Research will also invest £106,314 in the development and testing of new tools aimed at encouraging more people to take part in the national screening programme for bowel cancer.

All men and women aged between 60 and 74 in England are invited to carry out an FOB (faecal occult blood) test at home. The FOB test checks for the presence of blood in stool samples, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Researchers at the University of Leeds, led by Professor Daryl O’Connor, will work with the North East Hub of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme to introduce new leaflets designed to help people overcome the barriers that stop them from returning their test kit.

Researchers at Hull York Medical School, led by Professor Miriam Johnson, will test an enhanced GP system developed to improve access to palliative care for cancer patients in Yorkshire.

Funded by a £300,000 investment, the new system, which will also help identify those who can be managed by their usual care team, or who also need support from specialist palliative care services, will be trialled in a number of GP practices and expert training in how to use it will be provided.

The funding projects by Yorkshire Cancer research were announced to mark World Cancer Day 2016