A new facility at The Christie specialist cancer hospital in Manchester, UK is being billed as “the world’s largest” early clinical trials unit.

Half-funded by Cancer Research UK, the facility is part of a £35 million, three-story building at The Christie that also houses the largest chemotherapy unit in the UK and The Christie Clinic private patients’ suite. With the new opening, The Christie will be able to run more than 200 clinical trials at any one time, the hospital said. The expectation is that by 2014 over 2,400 patients a year will be entering trials at The Christie.

Ten new Phase I and II studies are scheduled to start at the hospital over the next few months, addressing gynaecological, breast, gastro-intestinal, genito-urinary, haematological and lung cancers, as well as sarcomas, melanomas and a number of new biological and experimental pharmacology trials involving a wider range of cancer patients. The chemotherapy section of the new centre will be taking part in around 30 national and international Phase III studies.

Clinical trials at The Christie are funded by charities such as Cancer Research UK, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, health authorities and the Medical Research Council. Last year the hospital opened more than 75 new early-phase trials, recruiting over 1,000 cancer patients.

Up to 700 chemotherapy and clinical trial patients a week will be treated at the new centre, which has a total of 70 beds, 19 consulting rooms, and a pharmacy and research laboratory that will process some 11,000 blood and tissue samples per year. Building costs of £35 million were covered by The Christie (£22 million), the Christie charity (£9 million) and Cancer Research UK (£4 million).