Multimillion pound boost for early cancer detection research in Cambridge

The CRUK Cambridge Centre Early Detection Programme along with University College London, the University of Manchester, the Canary Center at Stanford and the Knight Cancer Institute are now partners in the Cancer Research UK International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED).

The Alliance was created because there is a great potential for earlier detection of cancer research which could offer transformational improvements in patient outcomes. In the previous decades, the progress in early detection research has been limited as the research wasn't prioritised, there were restricted career development opportunities and the research community was fragmented which counteracted progress acceleration across institutions and collaborations (also with industry).

The ACED Alliance, which unites five world-leading centres for early detection, is a science-led, collaborative investment that will support early detection of cancer research. Representing up to £40 million of investment, this initiative aims to foster collaboration, infrastructure development and training across these outstanding UK and US Centres within the Alliance and for the wider early detection research community.

Scientists in the Alliance will work together at the forefront of technological innovation to translate research into realistic ways to improve cancer diagnosis, which can be implemented into health systems.

Potential areas of research include:

  • Developing new improved imaging techniques and robotics, to detect early tumours and pre-cancerous lesions
  • Increasing understanding of how the environment surrounding a tumour influences cancer development
  • Developing less invasive and simpler detection techniques such as blood, breath and urine tests, which can monitor patients who are at a higher risk of certain cancers
  • Searching for early stress signals sent out from tumours or surrounding damaged tissue as a new indication of cancer
  • Looking for early signs of cancer in surrounding tissue and fluids to help diagnose hard to reach tumours
  • Harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence and big data to look for signs of cancer that are undetectable to humans.

Prime Minister Johnson said:

“Every two minutes, someone in the UK has their world turned upside down when they are diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to the pioneering work of UK researchers and our world-beating NHS, more people are surviving than ever.

“However, there is more to do to detect and cure this disease earlier. That is why I am pleased to welcome this new UK-US alliance, driven by Cancer Research UK. “This is the transatlantic partnership at its very best. Our brilliant scientists will be able to work together to develop detection technologies and implement them in our health service, so we can find cancer earlier and ultimately save people’s lives.”