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Expert calls for new cancer research priorities
Date:9/22/2009

Berlin, Germany: Cancer research is too focused on new drug development, while not enough money and effort is being devoted to pursuing important advances in knowledge likely to have the biggest impact on combating the disease in the next few decades, a leading research policy expert says, adding that a major shift in research priorities will be crucial to the ability to cope with the coming wave of cancer cases.

Professor Richard Sullivan of the King's Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre in London told Europe's largest cancer congress, ECCO 15 ESMO 34 [1], in Berlin today (Tuesday 22 September) that studies aiming to improve surgery, pathology and diagnostic and staging imaging, as well as a radical rethink of the approach to prevention research, must become the focus of public- and federally-funded cancer research now. The global public sector spend on cancer research was about 14 billion a year in 2004/05, the latest year for which figures are available. Non-commercial funders in Europe spent just over 3 billion on cancer research in 2004/05.

"An analysis we have just completed shows that, on average, European public funders are spending 74% of their money on fundamental biology and drug development research and that well over 70% of the cancer research initiatives at the European level are aimed at the same areas," said Prof Sullivan, who is also chairman of the European Cancer Research Managers Forum, which studies cancer research and funding in Europe. "In the United States, the imbalance is even greater. There is no shortage of cancer drugs coming through pipeline and the whole area of drug research is quite healthy. What we need is a reapportioning of budgets from the charitable sector and public funders to carve out space for these other areas of cancer research that are largely invisible to a lot of policymakers.

"This is a deeply unfashionable view and the easy way out is to say that we must just ask for more money,
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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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