Oxford cash boost for personalised cancer medicine

23 October 2014

The University of Oxford has announced plans to create two major new institutes for cancer research.

The planned Precision Cancer Medicine Institute (PCMI) is valued at £110 million, including £35m funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) through its UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF). The additional £75 million in cash and support will come from charitable and commercial partners, likely to include Cancer Research UK, Roche Diagnostics and GE Healthcare.

The PCMI will examine a broad range of potential cancer therapeutics ranging from proton beam therapy to tailored drugs that will target specific genetic features of a patient’s tumour. Importantly, the focus will be largely on patients with early-stage tumours and poor prognoses, rather than late stage tumours as with much cancer research.

A new research partnership between the University of Oxford and the US Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine, a non-profit research body that aims to develop digital molecular diagnostics will create a Chan Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre for Molecular Medicine (CSSOCMM). Research at this institute will focus on genetic and molecular tumour characterisation; it will be housed within the planned new PCMI building, and is expected to support the genomic aspects of its work, drawing on data from the UK’s NHS-linked 100,000 Genomes Project.

UK Life sciences minister George Freeman said that the investment was “a sign that Britain is leading the world in the exciting new field of genomic medicine” and highlighted “the international confidence in the UK’s ability to develop better and more personalised cancer treatments”.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder and chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine, said: “The infrastructure to manage big data must be established to enable a national network of clinical scientists in the UK and a portion of the $50M (£31m) commitment will be used to fund the capital needs to ensure that patients throughout England could benefit from this genomic platform”. A total of £21 million is expected to support the CSSOCMM.

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