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24 October 2013

Cancer imaging centres get £35m boost

The Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre at King’s and University College London is among four centres to receive funding of to develop cutting-edge imaging technologies for cancer research.

Cancer Imaging

The Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre (CCIC) at King’s College London and University College London is among four centres to receive a funding injection of £35m to develop cutting-edge imaging technologies for basic and clinical cancer research. 

Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are together committing £35m for five years to four separate Cancer Imaging Centres across the country, helping to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in cancer imaging research. The new initiative builds on the £50m initial investment in October 2008. 

This latest funding will bring together scientists, engineers and clinicians to develop new imaging techniques and applications which will help clinicians learn more about how tumours feed and grow, how cancer cells signal to one another, tumour blood supply, the environment surrounding tumours and molecular and genetic signatures. 

The cancer imaging centres will serve as focal points of world-class research using a variety of techniques, such as optical microscopy, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (Positron Emission Tomography).

Since its inception in 2008, the Centre has been successful in developing and combining new imaging techniques to quantify the severity of a patient's tumour across different imaging scales. Within the coming years, the Centre will intensify its efforts in setting up new clinical studies, in which the novel imaging techniques developed will be applied to improve assignment of cancer patients to different treatments and assessment of response to therapy; particularly for new molecule-targeted treatments that have been approved but shown to only benefit a proportion of patients.

Professor Tony Ng, Head of Cell Biology and Imaging at King's College London

Professor David Delpy, chief executive of the EPSRC, said: ‘This large investment is great news and builds upon our previous successful collaboration with CRUK. These centres will bring together many of the UK’s leading scientists, engineers and clinicians interested in all aspects of imaging research, speeding up advances in new technologies and ensuring these are applied rapidly to the benefit of patients.’
The other centres to receive funding are University of Oxford, The Institute of Cancer Research and a new collaboration between the University of Cambridge and University of Manchester.
Imaging plays a crucial role in cancer management in three main ways; as an initial assessment of the extent of the cancer at the time of diagnosis, as a tool for guiding therapy and to assess patient response to therapy. 

Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of strategy and research funding, said: ‘Imaging is an invaluable tool in the fight against cancer. Being able to see what’s happening inside a patient is vitally important in understanding how treatments are currently working and the best ways to improve them.’

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