Cancers affecting a specific site are not single diseases, but rather a collection of diseases caused by alterations of distinct genes and molecular networks. Technological developments in the last decade have led to an increase in our understanding of which of these are required for cancer cells to grow and survive.
Because of our increased knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer, scientists at the ICR are now able to work on developing a new generation of cancer drugs targeted to the genetic abnormalities found in cancer. Thus, the availability of a comprehensive and systematic characterisation of the molecular features of cancers has become the linchpin of personalised medicine. As healthcare costs spiral, the need to identify patients most likely to benefit from specific treatments is increasingly urgent.
As a consequence of these factors, the ICR and The Royal Marsden (led by Professor David Cunningham) are jointly developing the Centre for Molecular Pathology. The Centre will provide state-of-the art facilities and bring together world experts in molecular pathology, bioinformatics, translational research (where scientific discoveries are transformed into practical applications) and fundamental science to speed up the process of introducing personalised medicine in daily patient care. A major aim is to establish new and reliable molecular diagnostics and biomarkers to enable the personalisation of cancer treatments, to develop measurements that indicate disease state, to drive the clinical development of novel anticancer drugs, and to identify new molecular targets in a range of tumour types using advanced molecular profiling technologies. The Centre will strengthen the ICR’s already considerable position as a leading institution in the development of personalised medicine for cancer. The information obtained will be used to optimise the clinical benefit provided by new cancer therapies in order to improve patient outcome.
The Centre for Molecular Pathology is funded through the Biomedical Research Centre for Cancer, a partnership development between the ICR and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.