UCL Cancer Institute

About the UCL Cancer Institute

University College London is ranked as one of the top 10 Universities in the world, and has one of the largest faculties dedicated to cancer medicine. The UCL Cancer Institute was established in 2007 and is the hub for cancer research at UCL. The Institute is located in the heart of London, and part of UCL [University College London]. UCL is consistently ranked within the top 20 global universities. The Cancer Institute is part of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, within the School of Life- and Medical Sciences. This School comprises the largest concentration of biomedical researchers in Europe. The Cancer Institute hosts the majority of cancer research at UCL, whilst other cancer activities across the UCL campus form part of a new. The overall remit of the Institute is to develop a cancer presence and excellence, which rival other major national and international hubs for cancer research. The main Institute is located in the Paul O’Gorman Building, Huntley Street (226 scientists, 32 support staff), with additional presence on Tottenham Court Road in the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Centre (81 researchers and support staff) and in Haematology, Royal Free Campus (27 scientists and support staff) making a total staff of 366. Particular areas of strengths include stem cell biology, transcription factors, cell cycle, translational immunology, genomics and bioinformatics, mechanisms of chromatin regulation, gene and immunotherapy, viral oncology, drug development and clinical trials. UCL is affiliated with a number of London teaching hospitals, including University College London Hospital (UCLH), the Royal Free Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children. The ‘ UCH MacMillan Cancer Centre’ will be a world-class outpatient cancer care facility opening in 2012. It is located directly opposite the UCL Cancer Institute in Huntley Street. This location provides a unique opportunity for close collaboration between scientists at the Cancer Institute and clinicians in the Cancer Centre, and will accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries into innovative practical developments that will benefit patients.

Stratified and Personalised Cancer Medicine

The UCL Cancer Institute are at the dawn of the most exciting time in the history of cancer research and treatment. New targeted therapies are resulting in major clinical responses, and molecular markers, circulating tumour cells, as well as molecular imaging will be applied to stratify patients to the best therapies, sparing patients unnecessary toxic therapies, and facilitating evaluation of responses early during treatment to determine whether patients are responding to specific therapy. Molecular profiles, including whole genome sequencing information, will determine in the near future the best treatment for each individual patient, as well as helping to predict the likely outcome and adverse affects. The opening in 2012 of the new UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre significantly expanded the outpatient care capabilities at UCLH, providing an opportunity to increase patient numbers during the next decade. Opening of the new Cancer Centre will lead to a major expansion of patient-orientated and translational cancer research. In particular, we will expand our GCLP facilities and our CPA accredited laboratories, supporting clinical trials, development of a genomics laboratory for stratified/personalized medicine, space to build capacity for cancer-related computational sciences and laboratory space to take advantage of advances in nanotechnology and engineering. These initiatives will allow translation of this knowledge into innovative cancer drug delivery, gene therapy and biomarker platforms. Additional space will also be provided for radiation biology research, supporting the first proton treatment centre in the U. K. affiliated with a teaching hospital, and space forteaching (expanding our successful MSc Cancer course, and developing further international masters programs in translational cancer medicine and cancer nursing care research). Reference: Tariq Enver, Director at UCL Cancer Institute.

The Team @ UCL Cancer Institute

Prof. Anthony Goldstone is a Senior Haematology Specialist with over 30 years experience. He has been a Consultant at University College Hospital since 1976 and is currently Director of the North London Cancer Network, a post he has held for a number of years. He has an interest in leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and chemotherapy and transplantation for these disorders. He was Chairman of the European Bone Marrow Transplant Group for Lymphoma, which he founded, for many years. Prof. Goldstone is also Director of Clinical Services at Harley Street at UCH, a purpose built Private Patient’s Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH). This is a joint partnership between HCA International and UCLH.

Prof. Tariq Enver has joined UCL’s Cancer Institute as Professor of Stem Cell Biology. He previously led a research team at the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit at Oxford University. Professor Enver is internationally known for his work on haematopoietic and leukemic stem cells. His team has made a series of important conceptual and practical advances in the study of blood stem cells and leukemia’s. His studies of normal blood stem cells have established the principals of how stem cells are configured in terms of their genetic circuitry.  These studies have already identified new genes that may be used to expand stem cells present in cord blood – a procedure that would significantly broaden the use of cord blood stem cells for transplantation of adults with leukemia. Professor Enver is currently applying the methodologies of the emerging interdisciplinary field of systems biology to develop these studies which should further enhance our ability to devise rational strategies to control stem cells and get them to behave in the way we would like them to both in the laboratory and in the patient.

Rajeev Gupta is a Senior Lecturer in Haematology at UCL and Honorary Consultant Hematologists at UCL Hospitals. He attended Leeds Medical School and gained his PhD at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill before completing specialist training in Haematology at Hammersmith Hospital London. Prior to his appointment at UCL he was a consultant hematologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he specialized in lymphoma medicine. He has worked closely with Prof. Enver for 10 years to develop research interests in stem cell biology and the biology of lymphoid cancers.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Research

What is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is a ‘catch-all’ term that describes cancers of a type of blood cell called lymphocytes. They affect all parts of the body. These diseases vary greatly in their severity – some are rapidly fatal and others are more indolent. Most patients will ultimately require treatment though, and this can involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy or even bone-marrow transplantation. In Britain, around 6000 people will die from NHL every year.

Why do patients die from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
There are three major problems facing doctors who look after patients with NHL. Firstly, although initial response rates to standard chemotherapy treatments are generally good, there is a sizeable minority of patients who don’t respond. They are said to have primary non-responsive disease. Secondly, in those who do respond, the disease will come back without additional courses of treatment. Even after this extra treatment, many NHL patients who have been given ‘the all-clear’ will ultimately relapse; overall only 60% of patients with the commonest type of NHL are cured. The third problem is that conventional treatments are poisonous to normal cells in the body – current chemotherapy drugs are in general, quite blunt tools. They have many side effects ortoxicities, which can prove fatal. It is these three issues that we shall address in our work at the UCL Cancer Institute.

What research will be done at UCL Cancer Institute to help improve treatment?
Cancer arises when normal cells in the body acquire changes in their genes (mutations) that allow them to grow out of control. Specialised DNA sequencing technologies have demonstrated that within any cancer in any individual patient, there are lots of different abnormal cells carrying a range of mutations. Some combinations of mutations may allow cells to resist conventional treatment and may lead to relapse. Furthermore, evidence from other cancers suggests that some cells specifically maintain the disease as a whole and if they are not removed by treatment, are responsible for relapse. Using state-of-the-art techniques, we shall examine these issues in NHL by isolating and studying the cells that remain after treatment in our patients. By understanding the biology and genetics of chemotherapy resistant cells, we can design new drugs with fewer side effects that specifically target them.