The translation of new discoveries in the laboratory into better treatments for patients is a priority for the CRUK Cambridge Centre. Onco-innovation provides a collaboration point for our colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry as well as members from University departments in the physical sciences. It is the combination of disciplines that provide the greatest opportunity for innovation and novel approaches.

The Milner Therapeutics Consortium

Cambridge is a hub for innovation and enterprise with a vibrant biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, hosting over 440 life science and healthcare companies. The CRUK Cambridge Centre works closely with the Milner Therapeutics Consortium, which aims to transform pioneering science into therapies by driving research collaborations between academics and industry.

The Milner Therapeutics Institute will open its research labs in June 2019, which will include the new AstraZeneca-CRUK Functional Genomics Centre, the Centre for Therapeutic Sciences and the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics. This will bring new opportunities for members of the Cancer Centre to collaborate with our industry partners.

Academic-industry collaborations

The Milner Therapeutics Consortium enables collaborative research by lowering the barriers of engagement between industry and academics. This Consortium consists of 3 academic institutes (Cambridge University, the Babraham Institute and the Sanger Institute) and 8 pharma companies (AstraZeneca, GSK, Shionogi, Astex, Janssen, Ferring, Elysium and Pfizer). Using a pre-signed Consortium agreement, 19 projects have been established since 2015 with Cambridge researchers. Ten of these are focused on oncology with members of the Cancer Centre.

Single cell genomics

Physical scientists are working closely with biological and clinical scientists to gain greater understanding of interactions that occur at the single cell level using novel sequencing, imaging, and nanotechnologies. Examination of diseases at single cell resolution, both at diagnosis and after treatment, will transform the practice of molecular medicine by improving the quality of patient diagnosis, refining treatment options, monitoring the response to treatment, and detecting the emergence of resistance to treatment. Cambridge scientists have been at the forefront of basic research in single cell expression profiling and the analysis of circulating tumour DNA, as well as setting up local biotech ‘spinout’ companies that develop novel single cell technologies.

MRC funding has enabled the creation of the Cambridge Single Cell Analysis Clinical Core Facility, a new shared core facility for single cell analysis that will serve all major molecular medicine programmes in Cambridge: cancer, neurosciences, immunity and inflammation, infectious diseases, stem cell and regenerative medicine, metabolic medicine and experimental therapeutics. The facility will work closely with strategic partners in the Cambridge area such as the Babraham Institute, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute, the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology and major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to bring their different capabilities to bear on clinical research challenges.

Pump Priming Grants

The Cambridge Cancer Centre promotes and supports interdisciplinary research through the funding of pump priming grants. The grants are to support cross disciplinary activities between different groups with a focus on cancer. This provides support for novel and high risk projects with a clear connection to Cancer. The titles of recent grants are below:

  • The role of fumarate as epigenetic modifier in renal cancer
  • Development of stapled peptides to inhibit K-Ras proteins
  • Generation and Characterization of Liver Cancer in vitro
  • Organoid Models Development of Novel Nanocarriers for Cancer Theranostics using DNA Nanotechnology
  • Investigating the morphological & proliferative heterogeneity of human glioblastoma by temporal microscopy-based phenotyping
  • The mechanics of glioblastoma Cancer in 4D: high-throughput sequencing and lineage tracing of tumours in situ
  • Voltage control of oncogene function using next-generation super-resolution nanoscopy