Cancer Research UK is partnering with European cancer research charities AIRC (Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro) and FC AECC (Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer) to invest around £30 million in six international collaborations aiming to accelerate progress in translational research.

Scientists in the five-year funded Accelerator Awards projects will investigate the potential of immunotherapies in treating liver cancer; develop manufacturing methods for CAR-T cell production; track cancer cell evolution; investigate drug resistance in blood cancers; devise a blood test for advanced prostate cancer and find new routes for personalising blood cancer treatment, CR UK said.

For example, the University of Milan-Bicocca is heading up £4.5 million project to support research into CAR T-cell therapy. The team will strives to make such therapies more accessible and affordable by developing new manufacturing methods and providing recommendations for CAR T-cell immunotherapy development.

Elsewhere, the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow will get up to £5 million to find new routes for personalised bowel cancer treatment. Researchers will be looking to identify new targets so that patients can be stratified into different treatment groups, which may lower the risks for patients in clinical trials, and potentially also reduce the level of animal research required, the charity said.

Also in the UK, Newcastle University will lead a project of around £5 million to establish a European and UK network of clinicians and scientists specialising in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim is to understand the immune environment in liver cancer and whether immunotherapies might be effective at treating this disease.

“No single organisation or country is going to beat cancer on its own. Research must be prioritised as the UK builds a new relationship with the EU, as much-needed breakthroughs in treatment are dependent on collective action from the international research community,” said Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at CR UK.

“Our Accelerator Award funding will lay the groundwork for a Europe and UK research pipeline, boosting our life sciences industry, and ensuring basic biological research translates into new innovative treatments in future.”