• News
POSTED ON: 26 July 2019

A state-of-the-art new £75m drug discovery centre is scheduled to open at The London Cancer Hub in the first half of 2020.

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is developing a state-of-the-art Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery which will host the world’s first ‘Darwinian’ therapeutics programme aimed at tackling cancer evolution and drug resistance.

The Centre will be one of the flagship buildings at The London Cancer Hub, and will enhance the ability of scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) to partner with industry to take their discoveries to market.

Stimulating greater interactions with industry is a major aim of The London Cancer – a collaboration between the ICR and the London Borough of Sutton to create the world’s leading life-science district specialising in cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise.

The ICR secured £30 million from Research England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund to support the new building, and is currently running a major philanthropic appeal to raise a final £15m to complete it.

The Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery will bring together world-leading researchers from very different disciplines across drug discovery and evolutionary science under one roof to create new resistance-busting treatments – coming together with the joint aim to overcome or redirect the whole process of cancer evolution.

Housing 280 scientists across four floors of multidisciplinary research space, the building will facilitate collaboration, stimulate innovation, and drive partnership with industry and the translation of discoveries into the clinic.

Drug discovery

The ICR is the world’s leading academic centre for cancer drug discovery, having discovered 20 new drug candidates since 2005, of which 10 have entered clinical trials.

It is also the UK’s most successful higher education institution at commercialising its discoveries, in order to take new treatments to patients.

The building will house a series of pioneering projects including:

  • Use of AI and advanced maths to ‘herd’ cancer like livestock so it is forced to adapt to one treatment by developing weaknesses against others
  • Creating the world’s first anti-evolution cancer drug to slow down cancer’s ability to evolve and so delay its resistance to treatment.
  • Devising innovative, multi-drug combinations that block several different cancer genes at once or that boost the immune system – as used to achieve long-term control or cures for diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.

New buildings

The Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery is one of the first in a cluster of new buildings going up at The London Cancer Hub. Others include a £40m specialist science school, Harris Academy Sutton, and Maggie’s Cancer Centre, a facility to enhance emotional support for patients at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Olivia Rossanese, who will be Head of Biology in the new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, said:

“More and more cancer patients are living longer and with many fewer side effects through new targeted cancer treatments. But unfortunately, we’re also seeing that cancer can become resistant very quickly to new drugs – and this is the greatest challenge we face.

“Within the Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, we plan to deliver a drug discovery programme that is wholly focused on meeting the challenge of cancer evolution and drug resistance through completely new ways of attacking the disease.

“This ‘Darwinian’ approach to drug discovery gives us the best chance yet of defeating cancer, because we will be able to predict what cancer is going to do next and get one step ahead.”

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