News POSTED ON: 13 February 2018

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable heard about exciting progress in delivery of The London Cancer Hub, and the challenges in taking advances in treatment to patients, during a visit to the Institute of Cancer’s Sutton site.

Accompanied by Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Sir Vince was welcomed by representatives of the two main partners in The London Cancer Hub – the ICR and the London Borough of Sutton.

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, spoke to Sir Vince about our ambitions for the hub – which we believe will increase the number of drugs discovered on the Sutton site, and make it more likely that these drugs will reach patients.

Sir Vince Cable’s visit coincided with the announcement that the London Borough of Sutton has purchased a further 2.23 hectares of NHS land, which will become The London Cancer Hub.

The £14.1 million deal doubles the land previously purchased on the site for cancer research and commercial enterprise – following a £14 million investment to buy 2.22 hectares in 2017.

The deal takes The London Cancer Hub project to the next stage as it will shortly be seeking commercial partners to begin developing buildings on the newly acquired land.

Attracting the brightest and best researchers

Dr Olivia Rossanese, Head of Biology in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, explained how an understanding of the way cancers adapt and evolve was crucial in order to create new treatments that can overcome the development of drug resistance.

During the visit, Niall Bolger, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Sutton, enthused to Sir Vince about the regeneration benefits the hub could deliver for the local area, and for the wider economy. He stressed the need to secure investment for transport infrastructure, particularly the desire to extend the existing tram network and increase the frequency of trains to Belmont station.

Another key theme was the importance of mobility of researchers, not only to attract the brightest and best researchers to work at The London Cancer Hub, but also to ensure that researchers at the ICR will continue to be able to collaborate internationally without any immigration or regulatory barriers. Professor Workman also highlighted the issues arising from the European Medicines Agency leaving the UK, potentially leading to delays in access to treatments for UK patients if a suitable arrangement is not reached as part of the Brexit negotiations.

The group finished the meeting with a visit to the ICR’s Centre for Cancer Imaging, where Sir Vince heard about our work to develop cutting-edge imaging technologies and new treatments using ultrasound beams to attack tumours.

A magnet for the world’s top cancer researchers

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, said:

“It’s exciting to reach such an important milestone in creating The London Cancer Hub. Purchasing this new tranche of land now unlocks the site for development, allowing ourselves and the London Borough of Sutton to seek commercial partners with expertise in constructing state-of-the-art life-science parks.

“The London Cancer Hub will be a magnet for the world’s top cancer researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and other innovative enterprises working in a virtuous circle. Maintaining an international and globally competitive workforce will be integral to the success of The London Cancer Hub. To achieve this we do need greater clarity on the mobility of researchers and regulatory alignment in the negotiations to exit the European Union.

“It was a pleasure to host Sir Vince Cable and to show him the exciting and deliverable opportunity we have in The London Cancer Hub. We hope that he will support us in making The London Cancer Hub a reality.”

London Borough of Sutton Council Leader, Ruth Dombey, said:

“The London Cancer Hub is one of the most exciting projects to be happening nationally, so I am very proud that it is happening here in our borough. Our ambition is that this will become one of the most important sites for cancer research, treatment and diagnosis in the world.”