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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 11:29 GMT
Cancer charity mega-merger
The UK is a leading research nation
Two leading UK charities are to join forces - creating the biggest independent cancer research organisation in the world.

The merger will create a body with an annual scientific budget of 130m, funding some 3,000 researchers.

The Cancer Research Campaign (CRC) and Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) have long been rivals, and have funded some of the most important projects of recent years.

Combining forces will give us the impetus to turn the potential of the genetic revolution into the reality of new drugs and treatments

Sir Paul Nurse, ICRF
Each has a network of researchers and has expertise in a wide variety of scientific areas.

The new body is to be called Cancer Research UK and will be chaired by former health minister Helene Hayman.

She said: "This charity is born out of a shared vision to cure cancer faster through closer collaboration and partnership.

"After months of careful negotiations and planning, today that vision becomes a reality."

Genome breakthrough

The new charity believes the merger will allow it to exploit more quickly many of the potential advances offered by the gradual unravelling of the human genome.

The CRC has traditionally specialised in the development of anti-cancer drugs, while the ICRF has focused more on the exploratory science which can eventually be turned into drugs and treatments.

Doctors are hopeful that in future they will be able to tailor treatments more precisely for the individual.

'Under control'

Sir Paul Nurse, the director general of the ICRF, who was in Stockholm today after receiving the Nobel Prize for Medicine, said that there were "enormous opportunities".

"Combining forces will give us the impetus to turn the potential of the genetic revolution into the reality of new drugs and treatments and better ways to prevent the disease."

The ICRF is the oldest of the two, founded in 1902 by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. It received a Royal Charter in 1939.

The CRC is a relative newcomer - it was established in 1923, by a breakaway group from the ICRF.

At the CRC, its director general Professor Gordon McVie predicted that within the lifetimes of his grandchildren, cancer - "the most complex disease known to man" - could be brought under control.

The fledgling super-charity received messages of support from both Prime Minister Tony Blair, and South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mr Blair said: "We can be rightly proud of the progress scientists, doctors and nurses are now making in tackling this country's biggest killer."

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Wales
Cash boost for cancer trials
23 Oct 01 | Health
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10 May 01 | Health
Medical research 'in peril'
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