The ICR now discovers more new cancer drugs than any other academic centre in the world, largely through its Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit on the Sutton site. Since 2005, it has discovered 20 drug candidates, and taken eleven of them into clinical trials. It is also the most successful academic organisation in the UK at earning invention income from its discoveries.
At the site of The London Cancer Hub, the ICR and The Royal Marsden jointly run the Drug Development Unit, which treats close to 300 patients a year on phase I trials, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world.
The unit has a focus on ‘molecularly targeted treatments’, where drugs are matched to the particular molecular features of a patient’s tumour. Staff molecularly profile patients entering phase I studies by detecting mutations in tumours and in the blood.
The eventual aim is fully personalised medicine, with drugs exploiting the specific weaknesses of a tumour at a particular point in time.
The ICR and The Royal Marsden also collaborate in pioneering research to develop new forms of precision radiotherapy.
The state-of-the-art MR Linac machine on the site is the first of its kind in the UK and only the fourth in the world. It combines two technologies — an MRI scanner and a linear accelerator — to precisely locate and treat tumours.
The MR Linac, which was opened by London Mayor Sadiq Khan in 2016, can target tumours in real time, delivering radiation more accurately and reducing the side-effects experienced by patients.
At the site, the ICR is also carrying out research into the latest imaging technologies so that treatments like radiotherapy can be targeted more precisely.
The £20m Centre for Cancer Imaging opened in 2016, and houses 130 imaging researchers from a range of disciplines.
It enables research into the latest in imaging technologies as a means of accelerating the discovery of new therapies.
The ICR is a college of the University of London, and is committed to educating and training the next generation of researchers and clinicians.
Its PhD students conduct world-class research projects, while its MSc in Oncology teaches about the latest in clinical practice.
The Royal Marsden and the ICR also work together, under their joint Biomedical Research Centre, to provide a range of training and career development opportunities for staff involved in clinical research.
The London Cancer Hub will also be the site of a new science-specialist secondary school, which is being built by the London Borough of Sutton.
Harris Academy Sutton will be housed in a £40m new building with outstanding environmentally friendly credentials. It will be the first secondary school in the country to meet the Passivhaus energy performance standard.