Saturday 6 August 2022 10:43 PM Cancer charity to pull plug on research centres devoted to offering potentially ... trends now
Britain’s leading cancer charity is pulling the plug on research centres devoted to offering patients potentially life-saving drugs, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Cancer Research UK funds eight clinical trial units where cancer patients across the country receive experimental medication, but insiders claim the charity is discussing shutting as many as half of them.
Cancer doctors say the move will drastically reduce the number of sufferers able to access these last-resort treatments, which are offered when standard approaches available on the NHS fail to have a significant impact.
One consultant oncologist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: ‘The vast majority of trials in the UK cannot happen without the Cancer Research UK clinical trial units. If you shut down these units, then the number of trials that NHS hospitals can run will be severely impacted and the number of patients getting these drugs will be significantly reduced.’
The charity has suffered financially since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, with its annual income falling by £90 million, from £672 million in 2019 to £582 million last year.
Despite this, it announced last month that it would contribute £1 billion to the London-based Francis Crick Institute, the UK’s leading biomedical laboratory. It is part of the charity’s wider strategy to focus on funding early-stage research rather than drug trials.
A consultant analyses a mammogram. Britain's leading cancer charity is pulling the plug on research centres devoted to offering cancer patients potentially life-saving drugs
Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician, also holds the senior role of Principle Group Leader at The Francis Crick Institute.
When the news was announced, medical commentators criticised the decision to prioritise funding to the London-based centre over other regional research labs.
A cancer expert, who works closely with Cancer Research UK, told The Mail on Sunday colleagues had also questioned the role Prof Swanton had played in the decision to fund The Francis Crick Institute, due to his links to both organisations.
‘There is a very real question of a conflict of interest here,’ the expert said. ‘Prof Swanton’s lab benefits from this funding while many colleagues could lose their jobs if trial units are closed.’
Cancer Research UK denies there is any conflict of interest.
Cancer doctors report growing difficulties setting up life-saving drug trials