Cambridge has a number of organisations working on not just early diagnosis of cancer but also early detection of risk by studying populations of patients and analysing risk profiles.
The work of many companies, among them Kymab and Bicycle Therapeutics, has also given Cambridge a global edge in the production of novel monoclonal antibodies. A monoclonal antibody is a laboratory-produced molecule that’s carefully engineered to attach to specific defects in your cancer cells.
Monoclonal antibodies mimic the antibodies your body naturally produces as part of your immune system’s response to germs, vaccines and other invaders. When a monoclonal antibody attaches to a cancer cell, it can make the cancer cell more visible to the immune system. A monoclonal antibody can even be directed to attach to certain parts of a cancer cell. In this way, the antibody marks the cancer cell and makes it easier for the immune system to find.
In terms of earlier diagnosis, Cambridge through Abcodia and others is also playing a leading role in identifying and developing novel biomarkers that will speed this crucial process and allow treatment to start earlier and more specifically in terms of patient profile.
Business Weekly has compiled an oncology A-Z of Cambridge cancer companies whose science and technology is adding to the power of the cluster.
Abcam plc is a leading provider of innovative protein research tools and services, with a wide range of products and expert technical support, enabling scientists to analyse living cells at the molecular level to improve the understanding of health and disease.
Abcam is committed to providing scientists with access to the correct reagents and tools for their research. The Company's catalogue is continually evolving to meet customer needs and currently comprises more than 130,000 products supporting research areas such as Cancer.
The range offered includes primary and secondary antibodies, proteins, peptides, lysates, biochemicals, immunoassays and other kits. Abcam products are supported by detailed, up-to-date and unbiased data on its website. Headquartered in Cambridge, UK, Abcam has nine global subsidiary offices, ships to over 100 countries. The Company was founded in 1998, and now employs over 700 people.
Abcodia is engaged in the validation and discovery of molecular biomarkers for disease diagnosis and screening. The company has exclusive commercial rights to the UKCTOCS longitudinal biobank that represents one of the largest collections of prospective serum samples in the world. The collection is derived from more than 200,000 initially healthy volunteers, many of whom went on to develop cancer. Using this resource, Abcodia is working with many industrial and academic groups to advance tests for the early detection and screening of cancer.
Acacia Pharma is focused on cancer supportive care – the management of the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapy. Acacia has generated a pipeline of product opportunities addressing a range of cancer supportive care indications, such as nausea and vomiting, xerostomia and cachexia, using a commercially driven approach to product development by identifying new uses for already marketed drugs.
The company plans to commercialise its product opportunities by out-licensing them. Although a number of anti-emetics are available on the market, these are generally much better at controlling vomiting than nausea. Therefore, nausea remains the major unmet medical need for cancer patients receiving cisplatin, and many other kinds of chemotherapy.
Amgen, which has major operations at Cambridge Science Park, discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A leader in biotechnology since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realise the new science’s promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab to manufacturing plant to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, and other serious illnesses.
Amgen has this week agreed to acquire Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.in a $10.4 billion deal. Onyx is a global biopharmaceutical company engaged in the development and commercialisation of innovative therapies for improving the lives of people with cancer. Onyx has an important and growing multiple myeloma franchise, with Kyprolis® (carfilzomib) for Injection already approved in the United States.
Onyx also has three partnered oncology assets: Nexavar® (sorafenib) tablets (an Onyx and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. compound), Stivarga® (regorafenib) tablets (a Bayer compound), and palbociclib (a Pfizer, Inc. compound). Onyx also has multiple oncology compounds in various stages of clinical development.
Unilever spin-out Arecor, was founded in 2007 on a revolutionary technology that enabled new and advanced solutions for enhancing the utility of biological medicines. Its novel approach to formulation design has been built on fundamental new insights into the way proteins and vaccines degrade during storage, at high concentration or in the presence of ionizing radiation.
Based at Cambridge Science Park, Arecor has partnered with the world’s largest pharma and biotech companies to enhance the commercial value and practical utility of many different types of proteins, and in many different applications such as vaccines, therapeutic proteins, or proteins used in medical devices. The company has built up experience in many disease areas including oncology.
Its patented ArestatTM technology is developing the next generation of high dosage medication which can be self-administered by patients by using a pre-filled syringe. It is being applied to numerous therapies based on monoclonal antibodies to treat diseases such as cancer.
Astex was founded in Cambridge in 1999 as Astex Technology Ltd with a vision to develop the use of high-throughput X-ray crystallography in a novel fragment-based approach to drug discovery. The company merged with SuperGen, Inc., (USA) in 2011 and became Astex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. Since the merger, the Cambridge company has continued its research on the Science Park. In addition to the combined entity’s pipeline of eight cancer programmes at various stages of clinical development, Astex’ partners are advancing several of the company’s cancer compounds in phase 1 clinical trials.
A global pharmaceutical company with a major UK presence, AZ and subsidiaries – including MedImmune in Cambridge – have a number of cancer-related programmes. These will be enhanced when AZ moves its research capability and corporate headquarters to the Cambridge Biomed Campus by 2016, by which time MedImmune will also have relocated there from Granta Park.
The acquisition of MedImmune and consolidation of AstraZeneca’s biologics capabilities into one business has created one of the world’s largest biologics pipelines including five cancer programmes in Phase 2, six cancer programmes in Phase 1 and multiple programmes in the discovery and pre-clinical stages.
Oncology medicines include: Arimidex, a hormonal therapy to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer in postmenopausal women; Caprelsa to treat medullary thyroid cancer that cannot be removed by surgery or has spread to other parts of the body; Casodex, an oral non-steroidal anti-androgen to treat prostate cancer; Faslodex an endocrine treatment for advanced breast cancer; Iressa – an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, that acts to block signals for cancer cell growth and survival in non-small cell lung cancer – and Zoladex, an injectable hormone-releasing hormone analogue that stops the production of testosterone and oestrogen in the testes or ovaries and is used to treat hormone-sensitive cancers of the prostate and breast.
Axol Bioscience is a Cambridge startup, co-founded by Jonathan Milner and Yichen Shi. It is selling proprietary brain stem cells produced from reprogrammed human blood cells, known as iPS cells. Its technology can be applied to a broad range of cancer research but the initial product focus has been on brain neurons.
There is a particularly important application of Axol’s neural stem cells in brain cancer research. Neural stem cells have a key property - the ‘homing’ property – i.e. after transplantation into the injured nervous system, they migrate to the site where inflammation is happening (attracted by small molecules released by the site of injury). Thus, scientists are developing these types of cells as vehicles of drug activators for treating traumatic brain injuries and brain cancers.
Axol’s ability to custom-produce neurons and progenitor cells from patient blood samples would be of particular interest to anyone looking at primary or secondary malignancies in the brain – helping them identify pathologies and effectiveness of treatments and doing so in a more data rich and cost effective way.
Bicycle Therapeutics is a biotech company developing a platform technology that enables the creation of a new generation of biotherapeutics which combine the desirable features of small molecules and biopharmaceuticals to create highly specific and highly stable drugs. It is a spin-out from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, based on the pioneering work of the founding scientists Sir Gregory Winter and Dr Christian Heinis.
The company is developing bicycles as highly selective and efficient tumour targeting agents. The ability to easily chemically modify bicycles means they can be readily conjugated to cytotoxic drugs or radionuclides.
Biosceptre UK Ltd was established at Babraham Research Campus in January 2013, a spin-out from Biosceptre International – a public, unlisted biotech company based in Sydney, Australia that is developing and commercialising antibody technologies to address a wide range of applications in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Sir Greg Winter (pictured) is chairman of the scientific advisory board.
Biosceptre’s P2X7 is a major cellular receptor responsible for normal programmed cell death. The technology is based on the fundamental discovery of a subtly changed form of P2X7 that is found on all solid state cancer cells, but never on normal cells. Biosceptre has developed and patented a range of polyclonal, monoclonal and domain antibodies that bind to the non-functional form of P2X7 (nf-P2X7), but not to normal P2X7.
Sir Greg said: “Biosceptre appears to have a great molecular target and antibodies to this target have the potential to treat multiple cancers. I am excited about advising the company on their efforts in building therapeutic antibodies and choosing the best disease to tackle.”
BlueGnome was founded in Cambridge in 2002 by a team of scientists who developed a novel mathematical technology for the analysis of genetic data following the sequencing of the human genome in 2000. In 2012, BlueGnome was acquired by Illumina and is now a wholly owned subsidiary - enhancing the company’s ability to establish integrated solutions in reproductive health and cancer.
With the support of the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust, BlueGnome released in 2006 the CytoChip – a powerful new approach for the investigation of genetic abnormalities. The CytoChip is now used in over 40 countries worldwide. Over 50,000 samples have been investigated using the CytoChip, mainly associated with developmental delay or with complex leukaemias. It is now used in over 200 labs.
Cambridge Epigenetix, based on the research of Professor Shankar Balasubramanian and Michael Booth from the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry, recently launched its TrueMethyl™ kits. TrueMethyl™ brings unprecedented clarity to the analysis of DNA by providing quantitative, accurate and repeatable single-base resolution sequencing of the modified bases hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) and methylcytosine (5-mC), which are thought to play a role in gene expression, for the first time. Early studies indicate that these modifications may have distinct and important physiological functions.
Cantab Biopharmaceuticals is using cutting-edge technologies to develop biosuperior protein therapeutics that address sub-optimal, in-market characteristics of currently licensed biologics. The company has a focus in haematology and infectious disease. Cantab and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) are collaborating on a research program to investigate the potential for enhancing the growth of cells used for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals. The research focuses on enhancing the survival of mammalian cells cultured in the laboratory through recent advances in the understanding of apoptosis – the process that controls cell death.
CCCR CAMBRIDGE LTD
CCCR Cambridge Ltd was established in autumn 2012 and is a spin-off company to the Competence Centre for Cancer Research. The company has almost 10 years of experience in R & D with the focus on cancer research. Its mission is to improve the quality of cancer therapy by developing and implementing new diagnostic platforms and offering the pharmaceutical industry new drug candidates. CCCR has 10 applied projects and three basic research projects in its portfolio and offers cooperation possibilities in various EU projects.
CellCentric is actively pursuing novel drug discovery against a histone demethylase, a ubiquitin modifier and two histone methyltransferase targets. Its primary therapeutic area is cancer. The target programmes have been prioritised having evaluated over 50 unexploited epigenetic targets, across multiple target families. CellCentric’s edge comes from its ability to access unpublished information and resources from over 30 leading labs in the field. This aids target identification and validation as well as drug discovery and development – from assay development through to patient selection.
CELL GUIDANCE SYSTEMS
Cell Guidance Systems, based at Babraham Research Campus, has released a novel exosome purification technology that may be useful in cancer diagnostics and for drug delivery, transporting therapeutic RNA and DNA, manufactured in cells in-vitro, to specific diseased cells. In some cases, exosomes mediate the benefits of stem cell therapy. The company also recently introduced the SINEUP™ gene expression technology for knock-up of endogenous genes and offers a quality karyotyping services.
The Cambridge biopharmaceutical company is focused on acquiring, developing and commercialising cancer treatments in the US, Europe and other international markets. Its development programs are targeted at specific subsets of cancer, combining personalised medicine with companion diagnostics to direct therapeutics to those patients most likely to benefit from them.
It has the global rights for three product candidates in various stages of development: CO-1686, which is in Phase I/II development for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer; and rucaparib, which is in Phase I/II clinical trials for the treatment of ovarian cancer. For its third product candidate, it is in the discovery phase for a compound to treat patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours, or GIST, whose cancer is resistant to current therapies.
Open sharing and easy access to DNA sequencing data from clinical samples is limited due to privacy concerns and interoperability difficulties. The lack of sharing impedes the progress of genomics research, affecting all genomic disease research from cancer to rare diseases. Cambridge-based DNAdigest was founded in 2013 to promote and enable open access, interoperability and secure sharing of genomics data for research. Its product is a portal for querying into genomics data repositories, shortening the research time and effort for discovery, access and processing of genomics data.
Cambridge drug discovery specialist Domainex is demonstrating its expertise as a domain hunter in a cancer collaboration with UCB, the Belgian pharma business. Domainex is a growing company with a reputation for speed and innovation built on an exceptional track record of drug candidate delivery. It has a world-class discovery team and three client drug candidates already in clinic. Domainex claims to reduce industry average drug discovery timelines by as much as 30 per cent through the application of novel proprietary technologies and a highly focused and integrated approach to medicinal chemistry and computational chemistry.
Domantis was established in 2000 by Sir Greg Winter and Dr Ian Tomlinson based on science developed at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge. The company pioneered methods for the production of the fundamental building blocks of the immune system known as antibody single domains (dAbs). Domantis was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 for around £230m but continues to operate as a centre for drug discovery from its base at the Cambridge Science Park.
Endomagnetics is addressing cancer staging and healthcare challenges through the application of advanced magnetic sensing technology and nanotechnology. The company is developing a portfolio of medical device products based on a patented ability to detect magnetic materials in the human body with exceptional sensitivity. The technology was originally developed at University College London and the University of Houston.
The SentiMag and its magnetic tracer, Sienna+, allow for best practice to be used globally, with lower costs and reduced workflow complexity, and leaving surgeons fully in control of the procedure. The Endomagnetics solution is said to provide much-needed flexibility and control in the fight against breast cancer. Melanoma and colorectal cancer sufferers are also likely to benefit from the technological advance.
GW Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1998 and listed on AIM, a market of the London Stock Exchange, in June 2001. It is also now on NASDAQ in the US. GW is licensed by the UK Home Office to work with a range of controlled drugs such as cannabis for medical research purposes. The group’s lead product Sativex, a therapeutic spray for a range of conditions including MS, is in Phase III clinical development for the treatment of cancer pain – the lead indication for the US market.
Horizon is a leading provider of research tools to support translational genomics research and the development of personalised medicines. The company’s proprietary rAAV gene-editing technology, GENESIS, is industry-leading. Using GENESIS, Horizon is able to alter any endogenous gene sequence of a human or mammalian cell line quickly, reliably and without introducing unwanted and confounding genotypes and/or phenotypes. The Cambridge Research Park company has grown its top-line revenue by greater than 100 per cent every year since foundation – growth built on a customer base that includes 100 academic, biotech, diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies.
INTERNATIONAL HEALTH TECHNOLOGY LTD
IHT was founded in 2007 and has over the last 5 years made a significant impact on early detection of cancer. Through HealthScreen UK, 5 different services for early detection of cancer are made available to an increasing number of companies offering the services to its employees.
The same 5 cancer services, representing over 80 per cent of new cancer cases, are available throughout a network of 70+ clinics to private payers. In Cambridge the services are available through Spire and Nuffield.
With over 20,000 clients screened, 100+ cancers identified early and winning the Employee Benefits Award for Healthcare and Wellness, IHT is well under way to having established itself as the leading force in early detection. This is furthermore underpinned by IHT working with 7 local and nationally recognised consultants who are providing clinical advice.
In 2013 IHT started delivering early detection of skin cancer services in the USA and have for some years already been active in Ireland and Scandinavia. The international activities are managed out of the company’s offices at Copley Hill Business Park, 2 miles south of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. IHT employs 35 full and part time staff.
Kymab’s technology is based on research from the world-leading Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and is being commercialised with substantial financial backing from the Trust. The company’s broad and flexible technology partnering strategy provides access to Kymouse – a multi-strain, in vivo human monoclonal antibody discovery platform for the creation of fully human monoclonal antibodies and for testing the resulting mAbs in an in vivo preclinical setting. It is designed to provide the full spectrum of functional human immunoglobin diversity while retaining normal mouse B-cell signalling and maturation.
Cambridge headquartered Lab21 is a global leader in personalised healthcare. It provides diagnostic products and services and supports blood bank screening, medical diagnostics and drug discovery. The Products division manufactures immunodiagnostic kits and reagents that are distributed internationally and is focused on infectious diseases for the blood-banking and clinical markets.
The clinical services operations have a growing test portfolio providing companion diagnostics and high technology molecular assays. In February 2013, Lab21 announced that is was working with French clinical genomics company IntegraGen to develop a new diagnostic for colorectal cancer. The objective is to have a CE Marked kit available based on the UK company’s technology by early 2014.
Following development of the assay, Lab21 and IntegraGen will explore other opportunities for partnerships related to the manufacture and commercialisation of the novel oncology biomarker.
LIFE BIOMEDICAL LTD
Life Biomedical is a young R & D and distribution company based at the Babraham Research Campus. Founded in 2012 by a group of doctors and scientists, its research is focused in developing biomarker chips for a variety of cancers. It is also a distributor of novel and unique life science and clinical consumables.
MedImmune was established in Cambridge after AstraZeneca’s £702 million acquisition of Cambridge Antibody Technology and is AZ’s global biologics division. It has one of the world’s largest biologics pipelines including five cancer programmes in Phase 2, six cancer programmes in Phase 1 and multiple programmes in the discovery and pre-clinical stages.
MedImmune recently agreed to pay up to $500m to acquire Amplimmune, a private US biologics company focused on developing novel therapeutics in cancer immunology. The acquisition will bolster MedImmune’s oncology pipeline by obtaining multiple early-stage assets for its immune-mediated cancer therapy (IMT-C) portfolio, including AMP-514, an anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody (mAb).
AMP-514 is in late-stage pre-clinical development with the aim of an investigational new drug filing before the end of 2013. Other Amplimmune assets include multiple preclinical molecules targeting the B7 pathways. MedImmune’s oncology research is focused on IMT-C, a promising therapeutic approach that may lead to durable and prolonged response rates across a range of cancer types. IMT-Cs are being designed to empower the immune system to counteract the tactics employed by cancer cells to avoid detection and attack the body.
Mission Therapeutics is a private drug discovery company focused on elucidating and targeting the ubiquitin pathway to treat cancers and other diseases. The company was spun-out of Professor Steve Jackson’s laboratory at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge in 2011 with around £6 million in Series A funding from a venture capital syndicate led by Sofinnova Partners, and comprising Imperial Innovations, SR One and Roche Venture Fund.
From its base at the Babraham Research Campus, Mission is developing small molecule drugs that target deubiquitylating enzymes involved in the DNA damage response, with the aim of inducing synthetic lethality – a powerful mechanism to selectively kill specific tumour cells. Mission is working on four programmes for a range of cancers including bone, lung, breast, ovarian and sarcoma.
At present, cytotoxic drugs dominate in the treatment of cancer despite the problems associated with these agents. With the emergence of new technologies, Mundipharma believes it is well positioned, along with its partners, to offer a growing range of tailored treatment options for different types of cancer. Innovative approaches for selection of products for further development is the key in the company’s drive to improve the outcome of treatment for patients.
One stand out product is IPI-926 – a novel, proprietary inhibitor of the Hedgehog signalling pathway. Abnormal activation of the Hedgehog pathway can lead to cancer and is believed to play a central role in allowing the proliferation and survival of several types of cancers, including pancreatic, prostate, lung, breast, and certain brain cancers advanced solid tumours.
The Cambridge Science Park company was founded in June 2012 and was among the first companies to receive funding from the MRC and Technology Strategy Board under the Government’s Biomedical Catalyst programme. The award supports Opal’s work to use creative approaches to design, prepare and evaluate novel compounds with attractive biological, physiochemical and safety profiles for effective IKKb inhibition.
Pfizer Oncology is committed to the discovery, investigation and development of innovative treatment options to improve the outlook for cancer patients worldwide. This independent business unit within Pfizer Inc. was established to enhance innovation while still drawing on the expertise and resources of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company.
The quality of the science behind Pfizer Oncology’s treatment advances is built on a strong foundation of basic and pre-clinical (laboratory) research. Its cutting-edge research techniques are used at the earliest stages of development to identify, understand and accelerate potential new medicines that will extend lives for patients.
Sareum is a drug discovery company producing targeted small molecule therapeutics, focusing on cancer and auto-immune disease. Sareum aims to successfully deliver drug candidates for licensing to pharmaceutical and biotech companies at the pre-clinical or early clinical trials stage. Sareum’s Chk1 kinase cancer research programme is a joint research collaboration with The Institute of Cancer Research and Cancer Research Technology Limited. The pre-clinical development candidate developed by the collaboration has been shown to increase the effectiveness of current cancer therapeutics in several pre-clinical cancer models.
Founded by Bob Boyle and Stuart Travers (pictured) in 2005, Sentinel Oncology is a drug discovery company dedicated to the development of new therapeutics to treat cancer where there is an unmet medical need. The company’s portfolio comprises of programmes focused on the PI3K pathway (p70S6 Kinase), DNA repair (Checkpoint kinase 1), cell signalling (FLT-3) and features a novel and innovative strategy for cancer treatment – Targeted Synergy – that was developed with funding received from the Wellcome Trust’s Seeding Drug Discovery initiative. CEO, Bob Boyle has 18 years industrial experience with positions held at Pfizer, Cambridge Discovery Chemistry, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Astex Therapeutics.
Skin Analytics enables you to map and baseline the parameters of your moles. Once you have done this, you will always have a way to assess your moles for change. The patent pending technology can detect small changes in both the geometrical structure and colour composition of moles with an exceptional 95 per cent accuracy. Skin Analytics uses cutting edge image processing algorithms, developed in partnership with leading academics from the University of Cambridge. The algorithms allow Skin Analytics to detect and track changes in key properties of moles over long periods of time just using images taken at home with a digital camera or smartphone.
Sphere Fluidics has developed unique products for use in single cell analysis and characterisation and provides collaborative R & D services in this area. It has patented novel systems that enable ultra-high throughput analysis of single cells and generation of their genetic, transcriptomic and proteomic profiles in miniaturised (pl to nl) volumes called picodroplets. Sphere Fluidics’ technology enables study of the mechanism of cancer cell resistance to chemotherapy, generation of new enzymes and identification of novel microbial strains.
A triple injection of cash, clinical studies and fresh blood in the boardroom is accelerating commercialisation of new cancer diagnostic technology from Cambridge based UroSens. The company’s pinpoint accuracy urine tests are a potential weapon against bladder and prostate cancer. UroSens has also secured ethics approval to conduct similar trials for the detection of prostate cancer.
With over 40,000 new cases of prostate cancer and 11,000 of bladder cancer each year in the UK, current diagnostic tests are unreliable, resulting in many unnecessary biopsies. For both diseases, the UroSens test is expected to significantly reduce the number of patients undergoing these invasive and costly procedures because of its reported high accuracy.
The new test is based on intellectual property licensed exclusively from Cancer Research Technology, the technology transfer arm of Cancer Research UK. The UroSens test is compatible with established assay technologies and automated platforms and has achieved CE mark as a research use only product, which will allow it to be commercialised throughout the EU and certain wider markets.
One of the UK’s leading development stage pharmaceutical companies, Vernalis takes promising product candidates along a commercially-focused path to market. It derives pipeline candidates both from its own research activities and from successful collaboration with a number of global pharmaceutical businesses. Its pipeline focuses on several key areas of disease in CNS and oncology.
Some of the influential organisations based in the Cambridge cluster playing a part in the cancer scene:
CANCER RESEARCH UK – CAMBRIDGE RESEARCH INSTITUTE (CRI)
The Institute aims to link the laboratory to the clinic with a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer-focussed research. The Institute’s research groups and associated core facilities are based in the Li Ka Shing Centre, close to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and many University of Cambridge research departments and institutes.
The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute aims to harness the scientific strengths of Cambridge to solve problems associated with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, focusing on the practical application of high-quality basic research into patient care.
CANCER RESEARCH TECHNOLOGY LTD
Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT) is the cancer-focused technology development and commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK.
The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute is part of Cambridge University. Funding from its two main sponsors, and other sources, supports research into the complementary areas of cancer and developmental biology. It was founded in 1989 to promote research in the areas of developmental biology and cancer biology and is an assemblage of independent research groups located in one building designed to promote as much interaction as possible.
Developmental and cancer biology are complementary since developmental biology is concerned with how cells acquire and maintain their normal function, whereas cancer is a result of a cell breaking loose from its correct controls and becoming abnormal. Both areas require a detailed knowledge of intercellular processes, which need to be analysed at the cellular and molecular levels. These research areas are complementary at the scientific and technical levels. To understand what goes wrong when a cell becomes cancerous requires a knowledge of the processes that ensure correct function in normal development.
At the technical level, the analysis of cellular and molecular processes requires familiarity with techniques that no single person can master, such as gene cloning, antibody preparation, cell culture, and embryonic manipulation. There is, therefore, a major benefit in having scientists with different but complementary knowledge and technical skills working in close proximity to one another.
The major sponsors of our Institute are the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK, and Group Leaders are normally funded in large part by one or the other organisation. The Institute is an integrated part of Cambridge University, and all Group Leaders are affiliated to a University Department and contribute to teaching and graduate student supervision.
WELLCOME TRUST SANGER INSTITUTE
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is a charitably funded genomic research centre located in Hinxton, nine miles south of Cambridge in the UK. A leader in the Human Genome Project, it is now focused on understanding the role of genetics in health and disease. It aims to provide results that can be translated into diagnostics, treatments or therapies that reduce global health burdens.