Cancer Research UK has established a new group - the Children’s Cancer Trials Team - at Birmingham University, which is tasked with co-ordinating groundbreaking clinical trials across the country.

The team is based at the CR UK Clinical Trials Unit at the University, putting Birmingham at the forefront of developments in childhood cancer, and will be funded by a yearly investment of £700,000 to support its operation, the charity said, adding that it will also provide additional cash for individual trials.

Right from the start the team will be in charge of running 10 clinical studies at children’s cancer treatment centres across the UK, and it is aiming to open at least two more new trials this year. But the number of trials coordinated by the team is expected to grow each year as new trials are designed and receive funding, CR UK noted, helping more patients get access to potentially groundbreaking new treatments.

Access to innovative new medicines is crucial to improving patient survival from diseases such as cancer. At present, around 60% of children with cancer are taking part in clinical trials in the UK, and this high level of participation in clinical research has had “a major impact” on the development of successful treatments used today, the charity said.

“While we have made great progress increasing the number of children who survive childhood cancer, it’s through trials of new treatments that we can help even more children beat the disease,” said Dr Pam Kearns, senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham and paediatric oncologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, who will lead the new team.

According to Professor Philip Johnson, director of the CR UK Clinical Trials Unit at the University, the move will build on the facility’s “strong track record in the design and implementation of clinical trials” and will “galvanise our offering by enabling us to reach cancer sufferers of all ages, rapidly taking cutting edge science from the laboratory to the bedside”.