Minister launches research drive

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman has visited laboratories in which researchers are developing new cancer treatments.

Mr Freeman officially launched a project - based at the University - which is receiving more than £1 million from the UK Government.

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.

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

Cancer treatments

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.

Fewer side effects

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

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. 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.

Professor Jonathan SecklVice-Principal Planning, Resources and Research Policy

Livestock research

Later in the day, Mr Freeman visited the University’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.

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.

George Freeman MPMinister for Life Sciences