UK lacks infrastructure to make lifesaving blood cancer breakthroughs – new report
Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan warns that there is ‘no time to waste’ as new report reveals medical research in the UK must be accelerated.
In Westminster today MPs will gather at an event hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Stem Cell Transplantation. As well as introducing new MPs to the important work of the Group, the occasion will also mark the launch of our new report – Destination: Cure.
In Destination: Cure we have explored a simple question; what can the government do in the next five years to help save and improve the lives of more people with blood cancer? And we are clear that a big part of the answer lies in stimulating more medical research.
Between now and 2020, over 6,200 people with blood cancer will receive a potentially lifesaving stem cell donation from a stranger. Tragically, however, one in three patients will not survive their first year after transplant.
This is a stark figure that underlines the need for a lifesaving breakthrough. And while the UK has the talent, knowledge and experience to make such a breakthrough, we don’t yet have the infrastructure to match.
Medical research and clinical trials are essential in developing the most effective treatments and approaches to transplant care. In stem cell transplantation, there is simply not enough research of this kind to make the breakthroughs patients need; currently, fewer than 5% of transplant patients are entered into prospective trials of any kind.
In Destination: Cure we set out a vision of the future in which the transplant community has the infrastructure, resource and capacity required to conduct groundbreaking research. It’s a vision that fits perfectly with that of the Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman, whose stated aim is to make the UK the best place in the world to conduct research into innovative new treatments.
We applaud this ambition, and are committed to making our own contribution. Our Research Institute carries out research to pinpoint the unknown variables that may influence the chances of a successful transplant outcome. And as the world’s first organisation to invest in Third Generation Sequencing we are able to match the genes of patients and donors with far higher level of accuracy, helping us to improve patient outcomes by lowering the risk of mismatches.
We are moving forward, but we could be moving so much quicker with the right action from Government. For the patients who do not receive a successful transplant, there is no time to waste.
When it comes to stimulating medical research, there is consensus on the destination – we now need acceleration.
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