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Issue 476, 4 February 2002

Leeds in 11m cancer initiative

An 11m government initiative to speed up the delivery of new cancer treatments will have one of its eight centres at Leeds. The National Translational Cancer Research Network (NTRAC) aims to ensure patients benefit from scientific breakthroughs more quickly, enabling those who fail to respond to conventional medicines to take part in clinical trials of new treatments.

The network will increase the number of new treatments and diagnostic tests, increase the number of early clinical trials and increase the number of patients across the country taking part in these trials. According to current estimates, only 10% of potential candidates for experimental chemotherapy are entered into early clinical trials.

The majority of new treatments are currently trialled mainly in London and the south. By investing in existing centres of excellence in other parts of the UK, and helping patients to navigate through the system, NTRAC will increase the availability of trials to more people across the country.

Lead investigator at the Leeds centre Professor Phil Quirke said: "We are pleased to have been selected as a NTRAC centre by the department of health, as it recognises the excellent work carried out at Leeds. There is a real need to speed up the processes by which laboratory-based research becomes new drugs and treatments. The University has already identified this as an important area, and participation in NTRAC will allow us to expand on that work, ensuring that patients in the region, and throughout the UK, benefit from the best treatment possible."

The centre will be a collaboration between the University's school of medicine and departments of biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Bradford Cancer Research Unit, Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust and Convance Laboratories.

The centre will research the synthesis of new molecules, carry out diagnostic tests and develop new tests, run phase one and two trials, and research viral therapy and molecular therapy.

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