The UK has been nominated to be “transformed” in to a new global hub for radiotherapy research, supported by an additional £56 million in funding from Cancer Research UK.

The network, dubbed Cancer Research UK RadNet, will be the charity’s largest ever investment in radiotherapy research and is set to accelerate the development of advanced radiotherapy techniques – “pioneering” the use of the latest techniques such as FLASH radiotherapy and artificial intelligence.

The hub unites seven centres up and down the country, the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford, the Cancer Research UK City of London Centre (a partnership between UCL, Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London the Francis Crick Institute) and The Institute of Cancer Research, London in partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Radiotherapy, hailed as a “cornerstone” of cancer medicine by Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, is received by around three in 10 cancer patients as part of their primary treatment.

Michelle continued, “The launch of our network marks a new era of radiotherapy research in the UK. Scientists will combine advances in our understanding of cancer biology with cutting-edge technology to make this treatment more precise and effective than ever before.”

The hub “aims to improve cancer survival by optimising and personalising radiotherapy”, and will “spearhead” the development of new techniques for delivering radiotherapy whilst investigating new radiotherapy-drug combinations, including immunotherapies.

Further to the funding, £13 million has been allocated to form new research groups and fund additional PhD students in Manchester, London and Cambridge, in order to ensure the UK’s radiotherapy research community “continues to thrive.”

In addition, the network will promote collaboration between diverse scientific fields, with a share of £4 million available to all centres for joint research projects, conferences and secondments between locations.