£75 million investment in fight against cancer

The Institute of Cancer Research is to invest an initial £75 million in creating a global centre of expertise in anti-evolution therapies – which hold the promise of outsmarting cancer to improve cure rates.

The London-based ICR is aiming to harness evolutionary science within a new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery to ‘herd’ cancers with anti-evolution drugs and combinations. Researchers and scientists at the institute believe this new approach can deliver long-term control and effective cures, just as comparable approaches have with HIV.

The new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery will bring together world-leading researchers from very different disciplines across drug discovery and evolutionary science under one roof to create new resistance-busting treatments – coming together with the joint aim to overcome or redirect the whole process of cancer evolution.

The building, which is also now seeking a further £15 million for completion, will house a series of pioneering projects including: the use of AI and advanced maths to ‘herd’ cancer like livestock so it is forced to adapt to one treatment by developing weaknesses against others; the creation of the world’s first anti-evolution cancer drug to slow down cancer’s ability to evolve and so delay its resistance to treatment; and devising innovative, multi-drug combinations that block several different cancer genes at once or that boost the immune system – as used to achieve long-term control or cures for diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.

Paul Workman, chief executive of the ICR, said: “Cancer’s ability to adapt, evolve and become drug resistant is the cause of the vast majority of deaths from the disease and the biggest challenge we face in overcoming it. At the ICR, we are changing the entire way we think about cancer, to focus on understanding, anticipating and overcoming cancer evolution.

“If we can raise a further £15m to deliver our new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, we can bring together under one roof experts in cancer therapeutics alongside others studying evolution in animals, cells and individual patients, to create a new generation of cancer treatments. We will create exciting new ways of meeting the challenge of cancer evolution head on, by blocking the entire process of evolutionary diversity, using AI and maths to herd cancer into more treatable forms, and tackling cancer with multi-drug combinations as used successfully against HIV and tuberculosis.

“We firmly believe that, with further research, we can find ways to make cancer a manageable disease in the long term and one that is more often curable, so patients can live longer and with a better quality of life. But that research will need support and our new Centre will dramatically accelerate the progress we’re already making.”

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