U.S. scientists receive inaugural $87 million ‘Grand Challenge’ awards to accelerate global progress to beat cancer sooner.
Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest not-for-profit cancer research organization, has today announced that six leading U.S. scientists are among the winners of a global competition to help overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer research.
The initial $87 million ‘Grand Challenge’ fund will be distributed across four international teams that include academics from six prominent U.S. institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Grand Challenge is unique in its approach to identifying and addressing critical issues through international, multidisciplinary team research on a scale never before undertaken in cancer. The initiative — established by the UK’s leading cancer charity, Cancer Research UK — has been steered by a panel of world-leading researchers chaired by Dr. Rick Klausner, former director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The projects funded by the award are set to revolutionize the understanding of cancer, and how to better prevent, diagnose and treat the disease globally. Teams will develop pioneering solutions to major challenges. Teams will:
- Create a virtual reality 3D tumor map which will allow scientists and doctors to examine – for the first time and in unprecedented detail – the cellular and molecular make-up of a patient’s entire tumor to improve diagnosis and treatment for the disease.
- Study samples from five continents to understand the DNA damage associated with different cancers, to understand what causes them and if they can be prevented.
- Distinguish between those women with DCIS (a condition that can develop into cancer) who need treatment and those that don’t, to reduce overtreatment of the condition.
- Develop a way to combine new and existing technologies to create virtual representations of tumors, and a global database that catalogues their genetic make-up and metabolism, which could lead to new ways to diagnose and treat the disease.
While survival has improved, cancer remains the biggest killer in the U.S. after heart disease. Approximately two in every five U.S. adults will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. It is estimated that there will be more than 1.65 million new cancer cases in 2017 in the U.S. and more than 600,000 cancer deaths (around 4,600 new cases and 1,600 deaths daily)i.
Cancer Research UK has been a driving force in global cancer research for more than 100 years. The organization is the world’s largest cancer research not-for-profit and the biggest independent funder of cancer research in the world. Cancer Research UK has funded seven Nobel Prize Winners and has contributed to the development of many cancer drugs globally, including Zytiga, a drug that has been prescribed to more than 80,000 men in the U.S. with advanced prostate cancer, and Temodal for the treatment of brain cancerii.
The organization also supported the discovery of key cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, an advancement that helped Angelina Jolieand thousands others to decide what action to take to reduce their risk of getting breast or ovarian canceriii. Cancer Research UK was one of the first international collaborators of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s ‘Cancer Moonshot’ initiative.
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said, “Cancer Research UK set up the Grand Challenge to bring a renewed focus and energy to the fight against cancer. We want to shine a light on the toughest questions that stand in the way of progress. We’re incredibly excited to be able to support these teams as they help us achieve our ambition. Cancer is a global problem, and these projects are part of the global solution. Together, we will redefine cancer, turning it from a disease that so many people die from, to one that many people can live with. We will reduce the number of people worldwide affected by cancer and achieve our goal of beating cancer sooner.”
Dr. Rick Klausner, chair of the Grand Challenge advisory panel and former director of the National Cancer Institute, said, “When we began the Grand Challenge we sought scientific adventurers — people willing to come together in new ways, to think differently, and bring novel approaches to answer the big questions in cancer. These unique teams have done just that. Cancer is a complex, and often brutal disease. Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge is helping us change the way we to tackle it – bringing together different disciplines, ideas, and people on a global scale. We’ve got our sights set on the horizon of discovery, and I’m confident these Grand Challenge teams will lead to life-changing results.”
(Source: PR Newswire)
Filed Under: Drug Discovery