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Grand Challenges Competition Announced by Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK has announced its Grand Challenges competition, an exciting opportunity for interdisciplinary teams to find solutions to the biggest obstacles in treating and preventing cancer. The winning teams will receive up to £20 million to work on their idea.

This competition is being launched with the specific aim of taking advantage of the newest developments in drug discovery, academia, and beyond. Nic Jones, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, spoke to Science Insider and said, “these areas have been studied before, but haven’t had enough resources or the science hasn’t been ripe enough.” There are seven chosen Grand Challenges, all designed to tackle different areas of cancer treatment, prevention, and drug discovery.

The Challenges are:

• Develop vaccines to prevent non-viral cancers

• Eradicate EBV-induced cancers from the world

• Discover how unusual patterns of mutation are induced by different cancer-causing events

• Distinguish between lethal cancers that need treating, and non-lethal cancers that don’t

• Find a way of mapping tumours at the molecular and cellular level

• Develop innovative approaches to target the cancer super-controller MYC

• Deliver biologically active macromolecules to any and all cells in the body

The charity is also offering other funding opportunities for innovations that do not fit into any of these categories.

Cancer Research UK has taken a flexible approach to the teams, but there are some expectations. Ideally each team will have a principal and a number of co-investigators (up to seven), all from “recognised academic institutions or for-profit companies.” Teams are also encouraged to be interdisciplinary in nature and include a patient advocate. At least 25% of the grant should be spent in the UK if teams are successful, and “commercial collaboration is encouraged.”

The Challenges are being extended on a platform of encouraging innovation, debate, and creativity. Cancer Research UK is taking a similar approach to the one taken by The NC3Rs when it comes to the CRACK-IT Challenges – successful entrants will be supported and offered funding, and innovation and out-of-the-box thinking is key. Actual Analytics won two CRACK-IT Challenges when developing ActualHCA, and we continue to work closely with The NC3Rs to promote innovation and drive 3Rs compliance internationally.

There cannot be enough emphasis placed on the importance of these awards and the need for new and innovative solutions when it comes to cancer treatment. Technology like ActualHCA, which enables better genome mapping and drug testing than traditional methods, also plays a vital role.

To read more about the Grand Challenges competition, visit the Cancer Research UK site. To read the Science Insider piece on the competition, click here. If you’d like to learn more about ActualHCA, visit our product page or get in touch today.