Founded in 2003 by Professor Charlie Craddock CBE and patients Graham Silk and Michael Woolley, Cure Leukaemia helps to bring pioneering drug and transplant treatments to blood cancer patients across the United Kingdom. The charity funds the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) which comprises a network of 15 specialist research nurses based at centres in the UK’s biggest cities and a facilitatory Hub in the Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
This integrated and collaborative network enables the accelerated setup, recruitment and delivery of pioneering and potentially life-saving blood cancer clinical trials, giving patients from a catchment area of over 20 million access to new therapies.
TAP (which was funded by Blood Cancer UK before 2020) has opened over 20 clinical trials that would almost certainly not otherwise have been opened and recruited more than 1200 patients to prospective clinic trials. These trials are generating new information published on internationally significant channels that change the global understanding of how to treat blood cancer, and patients have seen drugs that they otherwise wouldn’t have seen simply because there isn’t enough evidence at that stage for its routine funding.
Without the TAP; these trials would not run at such an accelerated rate, and patients would miss the opportunity to access potentially life-saving therapies. Ordinarily the time to set up a cancer clinical trial is about 30 months due to the bandwidth of clinical investigators, TAP bought that down to six months and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this came down to less than a month through the opening of the PACE study.
The Syncona Foundation has helped redesign and adapt what the clinical trial environment should be like today, rather than just using a model that was tried and tested in the 1990s.
Their funding investment has been of transformative importance – what we see is that for every pound you invest in Cure Leukaemia and the infrastructure it funds you get £10 of ‘free drugs’ for patients. This not only provides potentially life-saving options for patients but also drives inward investment from global pharmaceuticals into our economy in line with the UK’s Life Sciences Strategy. The continued support of The Syncona Foundation enabled Cure Leukaemia to launch a 3-year £3,000,000 commitment to funding the vital and globally significant TAP to ensure the sustainability of this transformative model.
The Foundation’s support since 2016 also enabled Cure Leukaemia to raise an additional £1,000,000 in 2017 to double the capacity of the CCH. This expansion not only enabled clinical trial research teams for the TAP to be housed in the building but also allowed a new day unit to be installed delivering previous inpatient treatments for blood cancer in an outpatient setting, saving the NHS approximately £1,000,000 in bed space per year. This extra capacity was critical during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as it enabled over 1000 non-blood cancer patients to receive chemotherapy treatments that otherwise would not have been possible.
“Cure Leukaemia’s funding of the UK Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) is a game-changer and increases the access for blood cancer patients to potentially transformative new therapies through the delivery of practice informing clinical trials which not only saves lives but also increases investment into this country’s economy. We have seen the urgent importance of clinical trials to combat the COVID-19 virus and we must not lose sight of the transformative role networks like TAP play in connecting blood cancer patients in the UK with critically important clinical trials.”
Sir John Bell GBE FRS FMedSci FREng - Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford & Government Life Sciences Advisor
“In 2014, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and it was soon determined that I would require a stem cell transplant. The initial procedure was successful, but in the summer of 2016, I relapsed; and I was given 2 months to live. Thankfully, I was placed on a world first clinical trial (called VIOLA) at the CCH. This trial was only available to me thanks to Cure Leukaemia’s funding and I simply would not be alive if it wasn’t for this trial. Not only did it save my life, but it has also informed treatment options for patients in the future.”
Lizzie Dean, 31, Birmingham