Birmingham Leading the Fight Against Blood Cancer

31st March 2016


Birmingham is leading the way, internationally, in the fight against blood cancer. World-class clinicians and scientists based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the University of Birmingham are driving forward groundbreaking new therapies and saving lives in the process.

By delivering world first clinical trials to leukaemia patients who have exhausted standard treatments these trials are not only saving lives, but they are they are also contributing to our understanding and treatment of blood cancer across the world.

The West Midlands region, with a population of 5.5 million has one of the largest and most ethnically diverse catchment areas in Europe and, as a result, can deliver trials very rapidly. When combined with a hub of leading medical research and the University, this makes Birmingham a centre of excellence in this field.

This has led Prime Minister David Cameron and Minister for life sciences George Freeman MP to publically acknowledge the global importance of Birmingham’s medical infrastructure.

Taken together, these assets have made Birmingham a major site for inward investment from pharmaceutical companies, creating over 150 new jobs and highlighting the region’s huge potential for growth in the life sciences sector.

The blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia plays a pivotal role in this process by funding specialist research nurses to administer these pioneering therapies. Without the specialist research nurses to ensure patients are constantly monitored and cared for; these trials would not run and patients would miss the opportunity to access potentially life-saving therapies.

Whilst great strides have been made since the CCH was opened in 2006 the fact remains that too many people still die from leukaemia and without additional investment, patients will continue to miss out on accessing life-saving therapies.

Dr Ram Malladi, senior clinical lecturer, honorary consultant haematologist and Cure Leukaemia Trustee based at the CCH said:

 

“Patients are potentially missing out on life-saving treatment as we simply do not have enough specialist nurses to deliver enough clinical trials.

 

It is deeply frustrating that patients are being turned away and miss out on these important and potentially curative drugs.”

As a result of the growth of Birmingham’s clinical trials programme in the last decade the CCH is currently operating at maximum capacity. Further progress in growing this world-class programme will only be possible through the expansion of the Centre so that more trials can be opened and curative options extended to more patients.

Excitingly, an opportunity has arisen to dramatically increase the capacity of the CCH to establish a Birmingham Institute of Haematology (BIH) to build on this track record of success.

This important project for Birmingham’s life sciences sector will require £3million of additional funding and will significantly increase the Centre’s ability to open clinical trials and amplify patient benefit; further enhancing Birmingham’s global reputation.

Cure Leukaemia co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock CBE, who helped save the lives of former footballers Geoff Thomas and Stiliyan Petrov said:

 

“There has been quite remarkable progress in our treatment and understanding of all forms of blood cancer in the last ten years but the time is now for curing blood cancer.

 

A tsunami of potentially curative therapies are being developed and it is essential that their assessment is accelerated if patients are to benefit. This vital progress will only continue with additional investment and growth of the CCH.

 

Birmingham has already shown that it has an important role to play in the contribution it can make in the fight against blood cancer and the benefits from establishing the BIH will be multiple. The BIH will not only hasten progress towards establishing effective treatments for all blood cancers within our lifetime but also immediately increase the number of lives saved in the process.”

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CCH, Cure Leukaemia is focusing its fundraising efforts on the financing of the Centre’s development.

Cure Leukaemia chief executive James McLaughlin said:

 

“We already have major corporate backing from leading businesses in the Second City but to find cures for all blood cancers we need the whole Birmingham community to unite as one to make this dream a reality.

 

The BIH will provide the foundations to accelerate progress towards this inspirational goal and Cure Leukaemia will focus its fundraising efforts on the establishment of the BIH going forward.

 

The last decade has seen Birmingham reborn as a city of growth and the BIH represents a key element in its continued growth in the future.”

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