The Oak Foundation Drug Development Unit is one of the largest facilities in the world dedicated to testing new cancer therapies. Over the past year, almost 300 patients entered early clinical trials to test a whole range of new drugs and treatments.
The unit is based at The Royal Marsden’s Sutton hospital, where it conducts trials that will lead to the development of new cancer medications and stretch the possibilities for future cancer treatments. It has been ranked ‘double outstanding’ by Cancer Research UK.
Innovation in cancer research
Recent breakthroughs include abiraterone, a groundbreaking drug that targets aggressive prostate cancer, and the first ever trial with a new agent that could offer more targeted treatment for ovarian cancer. The unit also conducted an important study comparing the effectiveness of CT and MRI scans in detecting cancer in blood vessels.
In recognition of their life-changing work, a multidisciplinary team from The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research, led by Professor Paul Workman, received the prestigious Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in April 2012. This was the first time it had ever been won by a team from outside the USA. The AACR said its decision was based on “the tremendous impact this team has had in preclinical and clinical studies of cancer therapeutics”.
The post of one of the members of this team, Dr Udai Banerji, is funded by supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
Phase 1 clinical trials
Professor Johann de Bono, Professor in Experimental Cancer Medicine, had this to say: “The unit enhances our ‘bench to bedside’ approach to treating patients. It is specifically designed for Phase I clinical trials. There are ten inpatient beds, five treatment chairs and two outpatient suites, as well as laboratory facilities and a seminar room. We are benefiting patients by offering them access to more than 30 trials.”
The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity raised £2.8 million for the Oak Foundation Drug Development Unit which opened in February 2005.
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