Cancer scientists are to develop revolutionary drugs designed to stop tumours resisting treatment.
The £75 million programme, to run in London, has been hailed as the “best chance yet” of beating cancer.
Billed as the world’s first “Darwinian” drug discovery programme, scientists believe they can create drugs which slow down cancer’s ability to evolve – in turn delaying its resistance to treatment.
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) also hopes to devise drug combinations that can block several different cancer genes at once, as well as boost the immune system.
This is a contrast to traditional “shock and awe” chemotherapy against cancer, which the ICR claims has failed because it has helped fuel “survival of the nastiest” evolution among cancer cells.
Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of the ICR, said: “Cancer’s ability to adapt, evolve and become drug resistant is the cause of the vast majority of deaths from the disease and the biggest challenge we face in overcoming it.
“At the ICR, we are changing the entire way we think about cancer, to focus on understanding, anticipating and overcoming cancer evolution.”
He added: “We firmly believe that, with further research, we can find ways to make cancer a manageable disease in the long term and one that is more often curable, so patients can live longer and with a better quality of life.”
The ICR is planning to open a state-of-the-art facility for the programme, “bringing together world-leading researchers under one roof”. It has so far raised £60m for the building, with £15m still to raise.