Dr Sam Dick, Science Information and Policy Officer, The Institute of Cancer Research, London shares an update on The London Cancer Hub, a new development in Sutton which aims to be the world’s leading life sciences cluster focusing on cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise.

At The Institute of Cancer Research, London, we know that working with industry is essential to take our research discoveries to patients. We’re well known for our partnerships with biotech and pharmaceutical companies on drug discovery and development – but partnerships with industry are also crucial to maximise the impact from genomics research. We now plan to greatly expand The Institute of Cancer Research’s (ICR) capacity to work with the private sector through a dramatic new development known as The London Cancer Hub – which ultimately aims to become the world’s leading life-science cluster focusing on cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise. The initiative will bring together many different scientists – including experts in genomics, drug discovery and data science – alongside clinicians and innovative companies. By bringing together genomics with these other specialisms in the public and private sector, we are creating an ideal ecosystem for translating our genomics research into real benefits for patients.

Understanding the genetic causes of cancer

The ICR’s genomics research at the London Cancer Hub site in Sutton is shedding light on the genetic causes of cancer, and helping inform the discovery of the next generation of targeted treatments for patients. For example, Professor Ros Eeles, Professor of Oncogenetics at the ICR, works with international collaborators to understand the genetic basis of prostate cancer. Her team uses genomics technologies and data science to identify key genetic variants in patient populations – data that can help predict future cancer risk and also identify genes to target with new therapies. Thanks to the ICR’s interdisciplinary and translational set-up, these identified genes can then be assessed on-site for how ‘druggable’ they are using Big Data approaches – revealing new targets to be pursued by our world-leading drug discovery researchers. We then work with our partners at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to develop these new drugs and trial them in patients.

The power of Big Data in cancer research

The ICR’s pioneering data science researchers, working on the Sutton site, have established the world’s largest cancer database for interrogating genomics data and many other sources of information known as CanSAR. Our researchers use this database to identify the next generation of cancer drug targets, several of which are now already in active drug discovery programmes both at the ICR and further afield. canSAR contains more than 10 billion experimental measurements mapping the actions of more than one million drugs and chemicals on human proteins, as well as genomics data, structural data, images of cells, tissues and the whole body, chemical, pharmacological and radiotherapy data and clinical notes –data with the power to transform future treatments.

 The future of The London Cancer Hub

Already at the forefront of genomics research, the ICR is continuing to lead the way by bringing together researchers, clinicians and industry at The London Cancer Hub – this will accelerate the pace of bringing our research to patients. Commercial partnerships are vital in helping develop our ideas into accessible products that translate into both local and global impact. The London Cancer Hub will be an attractive site for commercial partners, capitalising on our strong research base and proven record in translational research. By creating a space that brings together multiple disciplines both in academia and industry, The London Cancer Hub creates a perfect environment for innovation – benefiting research, the economy, and most importantly patients.

Read more about the ICR at Genomicsuk.com