Research institutions, hospitals announce London Lung Cancer Initiative
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


LONDON—A multi-organization cancer initiative was launched today by several leading research institutions and hospitals of London in hopes of developing a new clinical trial program for lung cancer patients. The London Lung Cancer Alliance is being supported by Boris Johnson, mayor of London, and Prof. Dame Sally C. Davies, chief medical officer of London.  
The initiative is meant to benefit patients both within London and worldwide through collaboration and coordination, in hopes of aiding all patients in finding trials that fit them. The initiative members are planning a research program that will open trials of novel personalized therapies available to up to 3,000 newly diagnosed lung cancer patients a year. The Alliance will also work with pharmaceutical companies to make available existing targeted cancer therapies and test them in lung cancer for the first time. The large number of patients to be included and a wide range of treatments will increase the likelihood of matching patients with potentially effective drugs.
"For far too long the prospects for patients with lung cancer have been bleak. But now we have an opportunity to change that as new genetic techniques for studying tumors open up the prospect of trialling novel targeted therapies for lung cancer," Prof. Alan Ashworth, chair of the London Lung Cancer Alliance and chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said in a press release. "The London Lung Cancer Alliance has brought together leading organizations across London with the aim of applying state-of-the-art technology to radically shake up the way we treat lung cancer. We believe that this new alliance will genuinely improve the prospects for lung cancer patients."  
The participating organizations include Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, King's College London (as part of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre), Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, St George's Healthcare NHS Trust and Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary, University of London. All of the members have pledged to provide funding for the initiative's infrastructure.
In addition to the work with clinical trials, the Alliance also intends to direct its attention toward screening, early detection and prevention of lung cancer across high-risk groups.
Lung cancer currently stands as the second most common type of cancer in the United Kingdom, second to breast cancer. A hefty 42,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2010 alone, and the country has a very low survival rate, with fewer than 10 percent of patients still alive five years after diagnosis.  
"The launch of this Alliance heralds a brighter future for lung cancer patients across London and more widely, and is just the kind of collaborative initiative that we're keen to see National Institute for Health Research infrastructure support," commented Davies. "It is only by academia, the NHS and industry working together that we can make real progress against diseases such as lung cancer, where low expectations and poor survival rates have become entrenched."
Under the initiative, researchers will undertake genetic profiling of tumors and test a panel of targeted therapies in those with certain molecular defects. All patients within a six million catchment area in London—as well as Liverpool, Newcastle, Southampton, Cardiff and Edinburgh—will eventually be offered gene testing at the time of their cancer diagnosis, and then offered a panel of targeted therapies matched to the molecular defects of their particular cancer.  
"This alliance gives us an outstanding opportunity for our leading scientists to work together across the capital to change the face of lung cancer in the UK, and to translate these discoveries into life-saving care for our patients," said Prof. Michael Seckl, head of Molecular Oncology at Imperial College London and an oncology consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.  
SOURCE: Institute of Cancer Research press release
Code: E04251301

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