Patients with blood cancers could get new treatments faster after 13 research centres teamed up to run clinical trials.
The initiative is being run by Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in a bid to boost survival rates, which are traditionally low.
It has formed a network of 13 centres so that they can work together to overcome the problems associated with clinical trials for these “rarer” cancers, which have been relatively under-researched.
The charity said it has been thought uneconomical to develop drugs for every type of blood cancer because there are so many. When a drug is ready for clinical trial it is often hard to recruit a good number of patients in one place with the required type and this, in particular, is what the new network could help with.
It can take up to 10 years for a drug to be developed, tested and available to patients.
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research’s clinical trials adviser is professor Charlie Craddock, of the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham Trust. She said: “Every doctor will tell you that they are routinely turning down promising new drugs because they don’t have the resources to conduct early stage clinical trials. We have a moral case for getting new drugs out there as soon as possible - if you have a relative with a blood cancer, you don’t want life-saving treatment available in 10 years. You want it now.”
Blood cancers are the leading cause of cancer death in people aged under 35 and kill more than 12,000 people a year in the UK, more than prostate and breast cancer.