A facility that gives patients opportunities to trial new medicines to treat a range of cancers has re-opened at Leicester’s Hospitals, following a £1.4 million expansion.
The facility, which has been renamed the Hope Cancer Trials Centre, has been able to double its capacity thanks to fundraising by local charity, Hope Against Cancer. This means more cancer trials can take place in Leicester and even more patients can benefit from access to potential treatments not currently available on the NHS.
The facility was first opened in 2012. Between then and now it has had over 29,000 patient attendances. It has approximately 100 different trials open and recruiting patients each year, managed by 46 staff in the Osborne building at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Professor Anne Thomas is the clinical lead for the Hope Cancer Trials Centre at Leicester's Hospitals. She said: “Essentially we had outgrown the space we had and were running the risk of turning down opportunities to bring more research programmes to Leicester.
“With the expansion complete we have more clinical space, including beds for overnight stays, so we can offer more patients the opportunity to participate in trials as a treatment option, increase our portfolio of trials, and provide a more streamlined service for both patients and staff.
“We are hugely grateful to Hope Against Cancer and its supporters for their tremendous fundraising efforts, particularly at such a challenging time for the charity sector. A big thank you is also due to our estates and facilities team at Leicester’s Hospitals, who managed the move, including shifting our service twice during the last three months while building works took place.”
Sheila Willson from Oadby is the first patient to access the expanded and refurbished Centre. Sheila, who is receiving treatment for myeloma, has been visiting the Hope Cancer Trials Centre since June 2017. She receives weekly treatment over a five week cycle, which has continued throughout the whole pandemic. She said: “Hope’s expansion is lovely; it has more room, is very spacious and looks really nice. The Centre means a lot to me. I feel very comfortable there, and everyone is so nice and helpful.”
The Hope Cancer Trials Centre has an international reputation for recruiting patients to studies and is often selected by pharmaceutical companies as a preferred site for testing the most advanced treatments in the world. The expansion will mean that ‘early phase’ cancer trials can go from strength to strength in Leicester. Cancer treatments are rapidly changing and the Centre is currently focused on developing research using ‘bio-specifics’, a new generation of treatments that – unlike traditional chemotherapy - target cancer while leaving other cells in the body with little or no damage.
Nigel Rose, Chief Executive of Hope Against Cancer said: "Our charity is delighted that we have been able to raise the funds needed to contribute to such an amazing transformation of new facilities. The Hope family of supporters, including institutions, local businesses and loyal individual donors have been fantastic in rising to the challenge of getting this done. In such unprecedented times, our focus now needs to be on continuing fundraising to ensure we are able to support ongoing research locally, that will help the new Hope Cancer Trials Centre to uncover potential new drugs and treatments".
For more information: Rachael Dowling, Head of Research Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org / 07950891193