A MULTI-MILLION pound cash boost will ensure Southampton will remain at the forefront of cutting-edge cancer research.

The money will mean that newtreatments discovered by city scientists are taken from the laboratory and onto the hospital wards.

Cancer Research UK has pledged £4million to the Southampton Cancer Centre, based at Southampton General Hospital in a bid to help ground-breaking research transformed into treatments for patients as soon as possible.

The funding over the next three years will secure the centre as it continues to lead the way in cancer research, as it has done over the past ten years, bringing together scientists, clinicians, nurses and students from the University of Southampton and the hospital.

During the past decade the unit has built a strong reputation for the advances in tumour immunology and immunotherapy, known for its “bench to bedside” results.

Professor of Immunochemistry Martin Glennie, pictured right, who is also head of cancer sciences, said: “For many years researchers in Southampton have led the way in this fight.

“We were one of the first units to isolate antibodies and develop vaccines that trigger immunity against cancers of the prostate, colon and against leukaemia.

“We have been particularly successful at taking discoveries from the laboratory and offering them to patients in clinical trials.

“It has been a long wait, but this work is now paying dividends and shows the true potency of the immune system to destroy cancer cells.”

More and more evidence is showing that the immune system has enormous potential to fight cancer and extend peop l e s ’ lives.

L a r g e clinical trials have shown that for some people, mobilising the immune system against cancers can control the disease for many years – the challenge for research now is to find out how this can be made to work for more types of cancer and more people.

The new treatments come in the form of vaccines and antibodies designed to target special immune cells against cancers.

The Southampton Cancer Research Centre has a long-standing track record of pioneering cancer research, particularly in oesophageal, colorectal and head and neck cancers, as well as the expanding and exciting area of cancer immunology.

Peter Johnson, Professor of Medical Oncology at the university and also chief clinician for Cancer Research UK, added: “This funding will help build closer links between scientists and doctors – and this will increase the pace of research, leading to improved treatments for patients.

“As well as funding our immunology work it will also support new projects linking to other parts of the university such as the Institute for Life Sciences, to bring the expertise in maths, physics, electronics and chemistry to bear on the problems of diagnosing and treating cancer.”