Tayside and Central Scotland

Dundee centre to test new cancer drugs

Medical technician
Image caption Dundee joins a UK network of centres taking part in early-stage drug trials

Dundee has been chosen as the location for a new centre to evaluate innovative cancer treatments.

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) has become part of a network of 18 throughout the UK.

They are funded jointly by Cancer Research UK and the departments of health in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Trials at the new centre will normally involve patients who cannot be helped by existing treatments.

The ECMC network provides treatment options for these patients and underpins the development of treatments which may help patients in the future.

Prof Alastair Thompson, the director of the Dundee ECMC, said: "Dundee is home to world-leading scientists and doctors who have made progress in developing new cancer treatments.

"This support will boost our vital work, enabling us to move towards our goal to increase cancer survival."

The work carried out in Dundee will build on research already under way in the ECMC network.

Prof David Harrison, director of Edinburgh ECMC, said: "Through this partnership we'll be able to broaden the scope of our research into the basic biology of how and why cancers are caused, driving the development of promising and innovative new treatments and supporting more clinical trials.

"This collaboration will also make it easier to develop new tests identifying which patients will benefit most from a given treatment - in effect, tailoring treatment according to the biological characteristics of patients' tumours - saving lives and helping to make best use of NHS resources."

The Dundee centre will have a particular focus on trials to treat breast cancer, bowel cancer, skin cancer and ovarian cancer, as well as studies to improve imaging techniques to detect cancer.

One patient who has been taking part in an early-stage drug trial is 53-year-old May Williamson of Fintry, Dundee.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and was initially treated successfully with surgery and chemotherapy.

In March 2010, it was discovered that the cancer had returned, and had spread to her liver.

A year later it became clear that the established drug therapy being used to treat her was no longer working.

Ms Williamson agreed to become part of a trial for a new drug, TDM1.

She said: "To be told that the treatment you are receiving for cancer is no longer working is absolutely devastating.

"While I try my very best to keep an open and positive outlook, you need to have hope.

"I'm looking forward to a second grandchild in March and I'm determined to enjoy as much quality time as I can with my family.

"So far, I'm responding well to this treatment and I really hope that it does prove to be effective."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites