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Mayor of London visits The Institute of Cancer Research

Mayor of London Boris Johnson visited The Institute of Cancer Research, London, today to hear about plans to create one of the world’s top centres for cancer drug discovery and life sciences.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) plans to greatly expand its drug discovery facilities as part of a major collaborative initiative which aims to develop the world’s leading life sciences cluster focused on cancer.

The Mayor viewed the first stage in the project, the ICR’s new £20m Centre for Cancer Imaging, which in the new year will begin using state-of-the-art imaging facilities to accelerate the discovery and clinical development of new cancer drugs.

The ICR, which has two London sites, at Sutton and Chelsea, already discovers more new cancer drugs than any other university in the world.

Since 2005 it has identified 17 new drug candidates and taken seven drugs into clinical trials. Abiraterone, which the ICR discovered, is now transforming prospects for men with advanced prostate cancer in the UK and worldwide.

During the Mayor’s tour, he learned how the ICR intends to work with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – with the support of the London Borough of Sutton – to transform their joint site into a world-leading life sciences campus specialising in cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, education and biotech commercialisation.

The new cancer research cluster would be second in size globally only to the MD Anderson campus in Texas, US, and has ambitions to lead the world on research into cancer. It will provide a major boost to life sciences in London, and is a key part of the Mayor’s MedCity initiative to promote jobs and growth in the sector.

The ICR is already the most successful university in the UK at generating invention income from its research through licensing arrangements with companies, as a means of accelerating the passage of scientific discoveries into the clinic.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London is already a global capital of science and the city is awash with numerous exciting research institutions. Through MedCity we want to harness this academic prowess to spur the discovery of new treatments and propel the sector so it becomes a key contributor to the capital’s growth and health. A new life sciences campus at Sutton would be a real coup for the city and underline our reputation as the place to be for game-changing science.”

Boris Johnson also commented on the excellent results of the ICR after it was ranked top in the Government’s Research Excellence Framework.

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “It’s fantastic to have this opportunity to show the Mayor the pioneering work we’re doing now and discuss our plans to take our cancer drug discovery research to another level. We’re already the world’s leading university for discovering cancer drugs and by working with our hospital partner, The Royal Marsden, and the London Borough of Sutton, we hope to greatly enhance our capacity for discovery research and collaboration with industry. It’s an initiative that should have huge benefits for both cancer patients and London’s economy.”

Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise and the originator of MedCity, Kit Malthouse said: “The Institute of Cancer Research is globally renowned and their drugs have had enormous patient benefit for decades now. Through MedCity and the Mayor’s Office, we want to explore providing them with the space and funding to expand, allowing them to significantly accelerate the scope and pace of their drug discovery programme. London’s life science sector is thriving and needs space to grow, which is why I am keen that the NHS plays its part in releasing redundant land both here in Sutton and in other growing centres.”

Eliot Forster, Executive Chair of MedCity, said: "The Institute of Cancer Research is already a major world centre for the development and commercialisation of novel cancer therapies. Its proposals for Sutton have the potential to accelerate this important work, particularly because they are founded on bringing together all partners in the process of drug development - all the way from basic research to the patient and the market. It's a collaborative model being pursued across the region, from the Crick Institute and Imperial West to AstraZeneca's Global R&D Centre in Cambridge, that will hugely speed up the translation of research findings into better therapies for patients and in turn deliver greater economic growth."
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