Cancer Research UK is the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world. We support every aspect of cancer research and every step of the cancer journey, from bench to bedside, and from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. In the UK, we fund around 50% of all publicly funded cancer research and work across borders, disciplines and diseases in close partnership with governments and organisations all over the world.
In the 1970s, just 1 in 4 people in the UK survived their cancer for 10 years or more. Today, thanks to research, that figure has doubled. Our ambition is to accelerate this progress so that 3 in 4 people survive cancer by 2034.
Right now, we’re living through one of the most exciting times in history for cancer research. Our understanding of cancer biology has been transformed by advanced technologies that allow scientists to understand, and often visualise, how the disease starts, develops and spreads throughout the body.
We know that more than 4 in 10 cancer cases could be prevented, largely through lifestyle changes, which has led to a huge shift in attitudes towards reducing our risk. And every day, our arsenal of treatments – surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, precision medicine, stem cell, immunotherapies and regenerative medicine – is becoming more sophisticated, targeted and effective in stopping cancer.
At Cancer Research UK, we also fund and deliver clinical trials, which are vital for translating the discoveries made in our labs into new treatments for people with cancer. For example, Katie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was just three years old. Two years later, when she was five, the disease returned and Katie joined a clinical trial to be given the cancer drug mitoxantrone. She is now free of cancer.
We co-funded the clinical trial Katie was on, which showed that mitoxantrone improved survival from 45% to almost 70% for children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia whose cancer had come back. Thanks to this kind of life saving research, children like Katie now have a better chance of surviving cancer.
Thanks to Syncona, we are getting closer to our vision to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured
With the help of generous supporters like The Syncona Foundation, we have been able to make enormous strides forward in cancer research. We are accelerating research in our institutes and centres across the UK, as well as supporting individual scientists and teams through our world-leading funding committees. For example, the scientific committee for our flagship international initiative, Cancer Grand Challenges, unites world-renowned scientists who identify the greatest challenges in cancer and invite the global research community to come together to solve them. Since its launch in 2015, we have invested more than £130m into seven teams of the most talented researchers from across the globe, which include 73 research groups spanning nine countries.
In 2019, we launched the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection to accelerate and revolutionise research into the early detection of cancer. The alliance connects three UK centres of excellence with world-class scientists in the US, who will drive radical new strategies to detect cancer at its earliest stages and work at the forefront of technological innovation to translate research into realistic ways to fast-track cancer diagnosis.
In particular, Syncona has supported our Pioneer Awards, which also launched in 2015 and funds revolutionary ideas faster. The judging panel, who are themselves a diverse committee of innovators, seek out high-risk, high-reward ideas from researchers at all stages of their career and from any discipline, which could contribute significantly to our understanding of cancer. This allows truly game-changing ideas to rise quickly to the top no matter where they come from.
To get ahead of cancer, we must be bold and willing to try new things. And it’s these kind of bold, unconventional ideas that could alter the course of cancer research and lead to the discovery of brand new therapies or new uses for drugs like mitoxantrone, which is now the standard treatment for children like Katie across the world.
All of this life-saving work is only possible thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our supporters and partners. With the support of The Syncona Foundation, we will continue to fund innovative, world-leading research, so that we can bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.