Minister launches cancer therapy drive

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 - based at the University of Edinburgh - which is receiving more than £1 million from the UK Government.

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.

Mr George Freeman MPUnder-Secretary of State for Life Sciences, UK Government

Pioneering approach

Scientists in the University’s Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine 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.

Metal implants

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.

Fewer side effects

The project is led by chemist Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, a Reader at the University of Edinburgh, who works closely with biologists and cancer clinicians to develop new approaches to treating cancer with fewer side effects.

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.

Minimising the adverse effects of chemotherapy is one of the greatest challenges we face today. 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.

Professor Jonathan SecklVice-Principal Planning, Resources and Research Policy

Research investment

Later in the day, Mr Freeman will visit the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, which is also benefitting from funding by the UK Government’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Roslin scientists are working with more than 20 partners from other research institutes and the food industry to further innovation in livestock research aimed more effectively to provide food for people in the UK and globally.


Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta was recently awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh Patrick Neill Medal for his outstanding research work in biomedical technologies and innovative therapeutics through multi-disciplinary collaboration.