Edinburgh Cancer Research

Minister launches research drive to cut cancer drug side effects

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman visited laboratories and officially launched the project, which is receiving more than £1 million from the UK Government: 12 February 2016

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman visited laboratories in which researchers are developing new cancer treatments that have fewer side effects.

Mr Freeman officially launched the project, which is receiving more than £1 million from the UK Government, at the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh (IGMM).

Scientists in the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre at the IGMM will use the investment to develop a new way of treating cancer.

Researchers are developing harmless metal implants that will be placed at the tumour site where they locally activate chemotherapy drugs.

The implants will alter the chemical composition of commonly-used chemotherapy drugs so that they only become active when they come into contact with a metal called palladium. Funding for the project has come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s prestigious Healthcare Technologies Challenge Awards scheme.

The project is led by chemist Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, a Reader at the University of Edinburgh, who leads the Innovative Therapeutics Lab at the ECRC. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the project, it will be supported by a strong team of co-investigators covering key areas of expertise in drug discovery and preclinical cancer models: Prof Neil Carragher, Dr Liz Patton and Dr Paul Brennanfrom the University of Edinburgh, and Prof Hing Leung from the University of Glasgow - The Beatson Institute.

Professor Jonathan Seckl, Vice Principal for Research at the University of Edinburgh, said that while cancer medicine has improved dramatically over recent years, the side effects of current treatments can be arduous. He said:

“Minimising the adverse effects of chemotherapy is one of the greatest challenges we face today.  By locating a very talented chemist with the University’s leading biologists and outstanding cancer doctors, we have been able to come up with innovative new ways to target treatment to the cancer itself with fewer side effects. We have made some excellent progress and are confident that, with this generous new support, our efforts will improve the way cancers are treated in the future.”

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP said:

“The University of Edinburgh and the city's cluster of innovative businesses play a leading role in developing medical innovations and interventions which save thousands of lives. That is why the UK Government invests hundreds of millions of pounds in Scotland's medical research, and why we are providing £1 million backing for this project as part of a £9 million package across other organisations to boost development of the next generation of medical technologies.”


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