Major funding for Manchester will help find new cancer treatments

Press release published 24 January 2023

The search for new cancer treatments in Manchester is to receive a major funding investment of £3m, providing future hope for people diagnosed with the disease. 

Manchester Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) will receive the funding over the next 5 years to help doctors and scientists find the cancer treatments of the future. 

The funding has been made possible by a partnership between Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health and Care Research. 

Manchester is part of a network of 17 ECMCs across the UK which deliver clinical trials of promising new treatments. Since 2007, when the network was first established, around 30,000 patients have taken part in 2,100 trials. 

The funding will allow new, experimental treatments - including immunotherapies - for a wide variety of cancers to be developed, as well as improve existing treatments. 

ECMCs work in conjunction with local NHS facilities to provide access to cutting-edge cancer treatments. Testing these treatments helps to establish new ways of detecting and monitoring cancer and to evaluate how it responds to the treatment.

Research test tubes
Caption: Research test tubes

Manchester ECMC co-lead, Prof Caroline Dive said: “We are delighted Manchester has secured this funding.
“Clinical trials are crucial to new and improved treatments becoming adopted as standard treatments by the NHS and this funding will allow us to further advance how we can treat cancer effectively.

“Thousands of patients have been provided with access to life-saving drugs and therapies through the Manchester ECMC and this funding will benefit people with cancer in the North West and beyond.” 

Manchester ECMC co-lead, Dr Natalie Cook said: “Manchester is thrilled to continue as part of the ECMC network. Over the next 5 years we look forward to offering many more clinical trial opportunities to patients and translating new biomarker discoveries into the clinic.”

Manchester ECMC is a collaboration between Cancer Research UK, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.

1 in 2 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer within our lifetimes so finding new effective treatments is vital. 

Cancer Research UK has been integral in aiding the discovery of many new cancer treatments. Manchester’s Cancer Research UK funded ECMC pioneered the use of blood testing to help select the most appropriate early phase clinical trials for patients and will be driving forward national clinical trials for adult and paediatric patients with rare cancers. 

Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cancer Research UK, Dr Iain Foulkes, said: “We are proud to be supporting an expansion of our successful ECMC network, bringing together vast medical and scientific expertise to translate the latest scientific discoveries from the lab into the clinic.

"The ECMC network is delivering the cancer treatments of the future, bringing new hope to people affected by cancer. The trials taking place today will give the next generation the best possible chance of beating cancer.
“The adult and paediatric ECMC networks will offer clinical trials for many different types of cancer.

Researchers will be working to find new treatments and tackle the unique challenges presented by cancers in children and young people. Working with our partners, this new funding will bring hope for more effective, personalised therapies for everyone affected by cancer.”  

Chief Executive of the NIHR, Professor Lucy Chappell, said:“The ECMC Network is a vital strategic investment in the UK’s cancer research community, bringing together top scientists and clinicians to tackle some of the biggest scientific challenges in cancer and improve outcomes for patients. 

“Through this route, we enable more people to join trials that could help them. The ECMC Network will give access to brand new experimental treatments for patients, including children and young people, paving the way for these treatments to be used in the clinic one day. This is a crucial part of NIHR’s work, and enables more people to join trials that might help them. We are proud to be partnering with Cancer Research UK and the Little Princess Trust in funding this network.

“The UK has considerable strengths in cancer research. We will continue to back life-saving research for the thousands of adult and children patients affected by cancer every year.” 

Minister of State for Health, Helen Whately, said: “A cancer diagnosis can be devastating but the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance to treat it and beat it. We are already picking up more cancers early by screening but we can do even better. 

“This partnership between Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Research and the Little Princess Trust will fund innovative trials that could lead to new life-saving treatments. 
"Every life lost to cancer is devastating and I’m pleased that across the country, people will be given renewed hope – especially children and young people – that we can beat this awful disease.” 

Last updated: April 2023