Pounds 20m Boost in Battle to Vanquish Cancer; Offering Hope: Network to Double Number of Patients Taking Clinical Trials

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Byline: Jenny Hudson Health Correspondent

Birmingham has been chosen to lead cancer research across Britain in a pounds 20 million drive to improve treatment.

The new NHS Cancer Research Network will double the number of adult patients entering clinical trials to benefit from the latest therapies under development.

Experts from Birmingham will co-ordinate trials through a network of 34 specialist centres to provide researchers with more support and resources.

The project is the first of its kind to provide a more integrated and effective approach to cancer research in Britain.

Prof David Kerr will head the project from Birmingham University and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, where the pounds 5 million National Institute for Cancer Research opened this year.

The network will be a joint enterprise between Birmingham and the universities of Leeds and York, led by Prof Peter Selby.

Prof Kerr, the institute's director, will lead early studies into new treatments while Prof Selby will concentrate on developing a network of advanced trials.

The project follows an inquiry into cancer treatment and research by the Government's Science and Technology Committee.

Mark Britnall, acting chief executive of the University Hospital Trust Birmingham, which manages the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: 'We're absolutely delighted to have been awarded this bid.

'It shows that Birmingham is once again at the cutting edge of developments and is leading the NHS in the UK.'

More than 3,000 patients take part in trials at the institute a year.

Research is under way into gene therapy in which cancer cells are injected with a genetically modified throat virus. …