February 8, 2018, by Emma Rayner

Cancer vaccine pioneers shortlisted for CRUK’s Grand Challenge award

A multi-disciplinary team of scientists, led by University of Nottingham cancer vaccine pioneer Professor Lindy Durrant, has been shortlisted to the final stages of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge – an ambitious series of £20m global grants to tackle some of the toughest questions in cancer research.

The ‘Blueprint’ project aims to eradicate established tumours with unique cancer vaccines that can be personalised to patients with most types of cancer. The project will focus on head and neck cancers, glioblastoma, lung and pancreatic cancer – all of which currently have poor prognosis.

Professor Durrant, who is also Chief Scientific Officer of novel immunotherapy company, Scancell, said: ”It’s a huge honour to be shortlisted for the CRUK Grand Challenge Award and also to lead a team of scientists from other institutions and industrial biotech partners in what could be a game changer for cancer treatment. Project Blueprint could mean a future in which every cancer patient will be offered, as a standard-of-care, a therapeutic vaccine that is tailored to their genetic and antigenic profile.

“The shortlisting means we are one step closer to delivering our cancer vaccine blueprint because we receive seed-funding of £30,000 to put together our full research proposal for the £20m Grand Challenge Award.”

The Grand Challenge award aims to revolutionise how cancer is diagnosed, prevented and treated by providing international multi-disciplinary teams the freedom to try novel approaches, at scale, in the pursuit of life changing discoveries. This is the second round of the award and last year four teams were awarded up to £20 million each.

Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: “Round two of Grand Challenge is proving to be incredibly inspiring and the ambitious applications reflect the quality of global researchers this initiative has attracted to beat cancer sooner. We’re delighted with the teams we’ve shortlisted and look forward to hearing more about how they plan to tackle the toughest challenges in cancer research.”

Dr Rick Klausner, chair of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge advisory panel, said: “The challenges set for Grand Challenge have once again attracted some of the best researchers in the world. I’m looking forward to see how global collaboration could bring together diverse expertise, invigorate areas of research, and overcome barriers in ways that aren’t happening at this point in time.”

Full details of the Blueprint Project and the investigating team are available here.

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