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10 October 2017, 08:46
A new cancer research centre in Southampton's a big step closer - thanks to an anonymous £2 million donation.
It puts the campaign within just over a million of its £25 million pound target.
The centre would be focused on immunology, using the body's own natural defences, and could open early next year.
The Centre for Cancer Immunology is the first of its kind in the UK and will bring together world leading cancer scientists under one roof and enable interdisciplinary teams to expand clinical trials and develop lifesaving drugs.
Professor Tim Elliott, Director of the Centre for Cancer Immunology, said:
“We are extremely grateful for this wonderful and very generous gift, which sees us enter the final phase of our fundraising campaign. It’s very exciting to see the Centre almost complete. After a lot of hard work by a lot of people, we are within touching distance of our new Centre being a reality.”
Immunotherapy is a revolutionary treatment, supercharging the body’s natural defences to find and destroy cancer. The new treatments being developed by Southampton scientists, in the form of vaccines and antibodies, direct special immune cells against cancers. These ‘killer’ cells can control and shrink cancer and give long-lasting protection. The University is developing treatments to target some of the most aggressive forms of the disease including cancers of the lung and skin, and childhood neuroblastoma.
The generous donation was given by a Guernsey resident who has a personal connection to the disease and is a lifelong supporter of medical research. Speaking on the donor’s behalf, their accountant John Bracegirdle said:
“Cancer is a horrible disease that affects so many of us but immunotherapy is an exciting area of treatment which is gaining momentum. The University of Southampton has made major advances in tumour immunology and immunotherapy research and the new Centre will enable its world-leading scientists to continue the fight on a bigger scale and help many more people with cancer become free of the disease.”
The gift will fund a specialist laboratory suite on the third floor of the Centre, which is based at Southampton General Hospital. It will be home to five groups of scientists researching ways antibodies can be used to attack cancer and boost natural immunity to tumours. The teams investigate how immune cells interact with anticancer antibodies and engineer new and better versions of these antibodies to ensure a lasting protection from cancer.
Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, added:
“We are extremely grateful for this significant donation which puts us in reach of our goal allowing the University to continue its pioneering work in immunotherapies for cancer.”
The Centre is being built at University Hospital Southampton with the final aspects of construction now underway and should be complete in early 2018 with an official opening taking place in the spring/summer.