Martin Johnson opens the new Hope Against Cancer Clinical Trials Centre
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Health and also in Education
Former England Rugby Captain and Manager, Martin Johnson CBE, will officially open the new Hope Against Cancer Clinical Trials Unit for cancer patients from Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and beyond on Thursday 24 May.
The Unit, a partnership between the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals, is based at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. Funded by Leicester’s Hospitals and Hope Against Cancer, the unit will provide the East Midlands with a centre for the latest clinical cancer research.
“As a patron of Hope Against Cancer, I am delighted to open this new facility. I know from personal experience how devastating this disease can be and bringing cutting edge treatments to local people I think is a cause worthy support,” said former Leicester Tigers captain Mr Johnson, who is an honorary graduate of the University.
Hope Against Cancer was established in 2002 to raise funds to support local cancer research at the universities and hospitals to directly benefit cancers patients in Leicestershire and Rutland. It has currently raised in excess of £2.4 million and funded 29 research fellowships looking at a wide range of cancers.
“We are very excited at being able to fund this new facility and extremely grateful to Martin for coming along to open it officially. Over the last ten years we have raised funds for a variety of research projects at the very early stages, identifying and investing in exciting new approaches. Now this new unit will provide a comfortable environment for patients involved in research, ” said Wendi Stevens, Hope Against Cancer.
The unit includes a treatment area for 8 patients, two clinic rooms, a pharmacy area and a small laboratory. By having these great facilities it will allow experts at the University and hospital to carry out more studies whilst providing a better environment for those patients taking part.
Dr Anne Thomas, Reader and Consultant in Medical Oncology and Director of the Hope Unit, from the University of Leicester, said: “It is fantastic that we now have a dedicated clinical space to treat patients taking part in early research studies. Not only can we carry out studies based on research developed by scientists in the University of Leicester but we can also deliver very specialist early phase clinical studies. This means that we provide cutting edge cancer research for the patients of Leicester and Rutland, and also receive referrals from the rest of the UK, This is a fabulous achievement for the University and Hospitals of Leicester.
Leicester’s Hospitals serve a population of over one million and diagnose and treat patients from the local area. Clinicians also offer treatment to patients from outside of Leicestershire and Rutland, in a range of tumours. The hospitals are already very research active with studies available in a wide variety of solid tumours and haematological malignancies. This unit provides the capacity to increase the number of studies available, working alongside the University, so more patients can benefit from taking part in research. In particular we will be focus on new drugs which are at a very early stage of development and hold promise to be the drugs of the future.
One of the first cancers to be researched in the unit and involving teams from the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals is follicular lymphoma, a type of the blood cancer. The trial is investigating the use of a new unique antibody in combination with chemotherapy.
“Previous trials have indicated that this particular antibody has been highly effective in relapse. It makes a real difference to patients and researchers to have a dedicated facility to carry out this research here in Leicester. It means that patients can receive sometimes difficult therapies in a more suitable environment and medics are able to develop work at the forefront of cancer treatment,” said Sarah Nicholson, LNR Cancer Research Network Manager.