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ICR recognised as a top spot for pharmacology and drug discovery in the UK

UK Pharmacology on the Map presentation

Photo: British Pharmacological Society

Last night, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, was presented with an award that recognises the organisation as an important site for the discovery and pharmacology of cancer drugs. 

The competition, ‘UK Pharmacology on the Map’, was organised by the British Pharmacological Society and judged by a panel of MPs, Peers and senior members of the scientific community. The chosen sites were announced at an award ceremony at the House of Commons and will be added to a map of top spots for discoveries that led to significant contributions to improving human health. 

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) was nominated for its pioneering work that spans the discovery of many of the world’s first chemotherapy drugs through to more recent research on molecularly targeted precision therapies and the recognition that the ICR discovers more new cancer drugs than any other academic centre in the world. 

The work on the discovery of chemotherapy drugs is recognised as one of the ICR’s greatest historical discoveries. The ICR pioneered the discovery and development of chemotherapy agents. We discovered and, with our partner hospital The Royal Marsden, developed busulfan, chlorambucil, melphalan and carboplatin, which are still in use worldwide up to 50 or more years later. Nowadays, we discover more new cancer drugs than any other academic centre in the world – as exemplified by the prostate cancer drug abiraterone, HSP90 inhibitors and many kinase-targeted drugs. 

ICR Chief Executive, Professor Paul Workman was presented the award by Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. Professor Workman said: “We are delighted to be given this accolade from the British Pharmacological Society in recognition of our work in the discovery and pharmacology of cancer drugs. The ICR has been at the forefront of discovering innovative new cancer treatments for decades, with many of our drugs in use worldwide today. 

“We believe that our success in drug discovery lies in bringing high-quality pharmacology together with many other disciplines vital for drug discovery, including genetics, cancer biology, structural biology, bioinformatics and medicinal chemistry. It’s also essential that we can apply our knowledge of cancer biology and pharmacology directly to patients in the clinic through our close relationship with The Royal Marsden. Our researchers are passionate about ensuring our science gets translated into improved outcomes for cancer patients, allowing us to discover and develop more new cancer drugs than any other academic centre in the world. 

“Much of our drug discovery work at the ICR has been carried out in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and its predecessors and we very much appreciate the long term support from Cancer Research UK. In addition to our close relationship with The Royal Marsden for the clinical development of drugs discovered at ICR, we have also benefited from many academic collaborations and partnerships with a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Team science and partnership is crucial for success in drug discovery and much of our research across ICR.”

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