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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 16:47 GMT
Experts join up for cancer fight
Scientist in lab
The centre will pool the resources of more than 500 experts
A pioneering new institute which will see hundreds of health experts join forces to fight cancer and other illnesses has been set up in Edinburgh.

The Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine opens on Tuesday, heralding a "new dawn of discovery for human health", according to its founders.

The centre will pool the resources of more than 500 experts to come up with fresh approaches to common diseases.

The IGMM is based at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital.

A 150m research package has already been lined up, with work on cancer starting as a priority.

This institute heralds a new dawn of discovery science for human health
Professor Nick Hastie
Medical Research Council

One major area of research to be looked at is the development of non-toxic cancer treatments, which could prevent tumours spreading around the body.

Doctors hope this could help people live with cancer as a chronic but manageable condition in a similar way to diabetes.

The IGMM has been formed in partnership by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the University of Edinburgh and Cancer Research UK.

The 150m research package will take it forward for the next five years.

Director Professor Nick Hastie, from the Human Genetics Unit of the MRC, said: "Research into targeted protracted treatment of cancer is a perfect example of what can happen when scientists join forces.

"This institute heralds a new dawn of discovery science for human health.

"Here we can study every phase of human biology, from genetic determinants of disease to the way lifestyle factors affect our health, and together achieve our goal of offering more effective and personalised medical treatment."

Quality of life

Cancer Research UK's Professor Margaret Frame is to study the way cancers spread.

Her multi-disciplinary team will look at how breast cancer cells grow, move and enter blood cells and see if patients' quality of life can be improved.

Prof Frame said: "After years of groundbreaking research, we have become much better at detecting and treating many forms of cancer.

"But there are still many cancers that are resistant to current therapies and there is a real need to discover new ways of slowing down the spread of the disease."

She added: "It's time for a new approach.

"Cancer specialists are experts in studying tumours but if, for example, we want to stop breast cancers spreading to the spine, we need to learn from experts in bone disease.

"This new institute will facilitate that process by prompting scientists and doctors in different disciplines to work together and help us to develop entirely new ways of thinking about cancer treatment."

Directors hope the institute will be able to compete for the biggest international health grants.

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