Cancer Research UK has this morning launched its mammoth Grand Challenges cancer grants scheme, which will offer up an overall investment of £100 million to help overcome the greatest barriers to beating the disease.

The charity says the cash will revolutionise the disease’s diagnosis, prevention and treatment “by uniting teams of the best scientists around the world to come up with answers to crucial questions” covered by seven Grand Challenges.

The Challenges are to: develop vaccines to prevent non-viral cancers; eradicate Epstein Barr Virus-induced cancers; discover how unusual patterns of mutation are induced by different cancer-causing events; distinguish between lethal cancers that need treating, and non-lethal cancers that don’t; find a way of mapping tumours at the molecular and cellular level; develop innovative approaches to target the cancer super-controller MYC; and deliver biologically active macromolecules to any cells in the body.

Researchers across all disciplines from academia, technology and business are being invited by CR UK to come up with innovative, ambitious approaches to tackle these key problems. The first winning proposal will be unveiled in the autumn of next year, with the successful team awarded up to £20 million to fund five or more years of research, it said.

The charity also plans to make at least five Grand Challenge awards to “stimulate fresh thinking and investment in multiple areas of cancer research” over the next five years.

“The prospect of major advances in tackling cancer have never been greater, but to realise these opportunities we need to galvanise the global scientific community to unite and work together to solve some of the biggest challenges we face,” said  Nic Jones, CR UK’s chief scientist, commenting on the move.