A cancer clinic based in London has taken the unprecedented step of launching a crowdfunding appeal striving to raise £350,000 in order to give more patients access to innovative cost effective treatments.

The Care Oncology Clinic (COC) is seeking funds to help test a treatment regime - which involves prescribing four cheap ‘add on’ drugs with low side-effects alongside conventional NHS cancer drug therapy - to determine whether it can slow or halt disease progression, and thus enable its wider use on the health service.

At the same time, the treatment model will be replicated in fee-paying private clinics across the world, providing effective cancer therapy at an affordable price to all, whilst providing a return for investors, the COC said.

Many studies have shown that the well-tolerated, safe medicines being offered by COC, together with approved NHS cancer drug treatment, can block the growth of cancer cells by disrupting the metabolism of tumour cells, slowing down or preventing their reproduction, it said.

These ‘repurposed’ drugs include metformin, normally given to diabetics to limit glucose overload, and statins, normally given to heart patients to cut cholesterol. Alongside these are doxycycline, an antibiotic, and mebendazole, an antiparasitic drug.

The COC protocol has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and is awaiting ethics approval, but the COC needs to recruit more patients to collect enough evidence to show the treatment can slow down or halt the progression of the disease.

“The main aim of this project is to show that it is possible to provide more effective cancer care to millions of patients, at a modest price,” says Dr Robin Bannister, co-founder of the COC project.

“Cancer medication is becoming more expensive and therefore less available. We hope that these add-on treatments will become widely used alongside existing treatments to improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients. Our ultimate ambition would be to show that you can reduce the amount of toxic chemotherapy by using these additional drugs.”

The crowdfunding launch, currently live on the Seedrs platform, will run for 60 days.

“There have been many crowdfunding appeals by individual patients seeking access to costly medicines, but this is the first seeking to promote wider access to treatment for everyone,” said a Seedrs spokesperson.