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Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Monday, 24 January 2011
Cornish research leads the way
The Knowledge Spa
The Research and Development Department is hoping to gain international recognition

NHS research staff in Cornwall say they want to see the county internationally recognised for the work it does in developing and improving health care.

Medical research at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has trebled in the last three years.

Staff say the more studies they're involved in the more they attract.

More than 300 studies are currently underway involving almost 1400 patients.

Immunofluorescent Light Micrograph of melanoma cancer cells
The department is carrying out long term cancer trials

The Research and Development Department for the NHS in Cornwall is based at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

Its manager Scott Brown said: "We've got a broad range of research. We do observational studies and clinical trials.

"Our aim in Cornwall is to be internationally recognised as a centre for research excellence."

Cancer trials currently make up the bulk of the work.

Dr Duncan Wheatley is a Clinical Oncologist and Lead for Research in the South West Peninsula. He said:

"This year was our best year ever, with over 2,500 patients going into research studies so a fantastic efforts from all the patients who volunteer and all the people who help with that."

Dr Wheatley says there's no question that patients benefit from his departments involvement in medical research.

"It makes a huge difference. Obviously we can't guarantee that the new treatment will always be better than the old treatment, but patients who go into the study, even if they get the normal treatment, generally get slightly more intensive care."

Since I have had the PDT, the quality of life has been vastly improved.
Eric Lockyear - Patient

Photodynamic Therapy is one of the treatments that's being studied by specialists at the RCHT and researchers at the Peninsula Medical School.

It's the use of a light activated cream to treat some types of skin cancer.

Eric Lockyear is one of the patients who says he's benefitting from the research.

"I have had skin cancer for over 20 years. I used to go into hospital every couple of months and have about 20 or 30 stitches with lumps cut out all over, leading to extensive scarring.

"Since I have had the PDT, the quality of life has been vastly improved. It's much less unpleasant, less painful and absolutely no scarring."

Patients now travel from as far afield as Oxford and Somerset for the treatment.

The project manager is Dr Sandra Campbell.

She said: "We're now becoming nationally and internationally known. The research has put Cornwall on the map."

NHS research staff say they're not only confident that Cornwall's reputation will grow but that more importantly patient care will continue to improve.

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