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UK government and partners pay £230m for disease research

Published on 23/10/14 at 11:31am
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Medical Research Council, London

A new partnership led by the Medical Research Council and the UK government will invest over £230 million in a range of new technologies aimed at identifying the causes of diseases such as cancer and dementia.

The announcement was made today by the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, and aims to ‘dramatically speed-up’ diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

This will include ‘state-of-the-art technologies’ that are designed to find out how differences in the cellular and molecular make-up of people affect how they respond to diseases, and to treatment.

The Clinical Research Infrastructure Initiative will bring together funding from UK government, Arthritis Research UK, British Heart Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK – to advance clinical research in 23 key projects at centres across the country, including research teams at 15 universities.

Many of these will involve partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Cardiff University has secured a total of £6.7 million, including £3.4 million from the Welsh Government for some 7Tesla MRI technology.

This will be used to investigate the causes and treatments of dementia, but also other brain conditions such as schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis.

A team from the Institute of Cancer Research, London also hope to use their new funding to revolutionise radiation treatment by developing a new type of machine called an MR-Linac (to be installed at the Royal Marsden Hospital).

This offering combines a state of-the-art radiation machine (named as a linear accelerator) with an MRI scanner. This could not only provide highly accurate visualisation of a tumour, but will do so at the same time as each fraction of radiation therapy is delivered – tracking the movements of a tumour in real-time within a patient while they are being given radiation and allowing the tumour to be targeted accurately.

This will give both clinicians and patients greater confidence that the treatment will be effective and with fewer side effects.

Speaking in Exeter, chancellor George Osborne says: “The UK is already a world leader in science and research, which is why at Budget, I protected science spending. Today we go a step further by announcing £150 million of new investment in clinical research infrastructure.

“The funding will go to 23 truly innovative projects from across the UK today that represent the best of British ingenuity and scientific exploration. The government, charities, universities and industry will be working together to advance our knowledge in combatting the biggest medical challenges of our time.”

Ben Adams

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