Reporter 459, 20 November 2000


Leeds wins in bid to speed up cancer treatment trials

The University has succeeded in a competitive bid to create a national cancer research network co-ordinating centre, which will speed up the admission of patients to clinical trials of new drugs.

Professor Peter Selby is to be the new centre’s director, with Professor Bob Haward as one of two deputies. The organisation, based at Cookridge Hospital in Leeds, starts work immediately and is expected to be operating on a £20m annual budget within three years.

Research has shown that cancer patients being treated in units where a large proportion are enlisted on clinical trials tend to do better than the average; involvement in trials generally brings with it a better standard of care.

However, it can be difficult and time-consuming to get patients admitted to trials and many clinicians lack the resources to handle the workload that this entails. The new national network will take a lot of this off the clinicians’ shoulders, making admission into trials swifter and thereby speeding up the research effort.

It will liaise with cancer networks up and down the country as a clearing house for information about patients suitable for trials, co-ordinate disparate funding bodies, organise peer reviews and facilitate regulatory approval for trials.

By as early as next April, the co-ordinating centre is expected to be working with cancer networks throughout the NHS in England.

Partner organisations in the successful funding bid included two units at York University, the Centre for Health Economics and the Centre for Reviews & Dissemination, and the Medical Research Council. A subsidiary part of the project, involving the ‘translation’ of laboratory experiments into patient trials, has been awarded to a consortium of Birmingham and Oxford universities.

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