Henry Winter
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Centre of Excellence in blood cancer research unveiled in Newcastle

Henry Winter
Posted by
23 Sep 2010

Local blood cancer patients joined researchers and doctors on 22 September as Newcastle was named a ‘Centre of Excellence’ by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has more than £7 million currently invested in 18 research projects at Newcastle University. Many of the charity’s scientists are also doctors and work closely with the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) and other hospitals to ensure that any breakthroughs in diagnosis or treatments benefit blood cancer patients throughout the North East as soon as possible. To celebrate this research, a plaque was unveiled today at the New Victoria Wing at the RVI.

Attending the unveiling was Ben Charlton, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in January 2010, aged 6, and is being treated at the RVI. Charlie, Ben’s Dad, said: “The treatment has been really hard on him, but he’s coped amazingly – he’s an inspiration to all of us. Leukaemia has turned our life upside down in so many different ways. Research is so important to improve treatments - by supporting charities like Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, we can help save lives in the future.”

The Centre has been recognised for its leading research into blood cancers, particularly focused on improving treatments and diagnosis for adults and children with leukaemia, as well as world-class research into stem cell transplants.

An example of the charity’s pioneering research projects at Newcastle is the ‘Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Cytogenetics Database’, which contains samples from more than 25,000 adults and children with acute leukaemias - the largest of its kind in the world. The team, based at the Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, are using the resource to identify genetic abnormalities that can determine how leukaemia patients will respond to treatment. Their findings are being used to tailor specific treatments to patients with different genetic abnormalities, helping to save lives.”

The unveiling of the Centre of Excellence at Newcastle is part of the charity’s plans to focus investment in leading research institutions across the UK.                             

Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “Newcastle has an outstanding record of research into leukaemia and stem cell transplants, with regular breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment. It is this translation of scientific research into real benefits for patients which truly makes it a ‘Centre of Excellence’.”

Professor Andy Hall, Director of the Northern Institute of Cancer Research, said: “The pace of progress in delivering new treatments for blood cancers is very exciting. Newcastle attracts truly world-class scientists and clinical haematologists and this concentration of expertise means that blood cancer patients in the North East have access to the newest and best treatment around. Investment from charities such as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is vital to help this continue.”

As well as Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, The Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research is jointly funded by two other charities - Cancer Research UK and the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

Watch an ITV Tyne Tees report on the unveiling.