Patients with cancers of the mouth and throat are set to benefit from an announcement today that £4.5m has been donated to The Christie NHS Foundation Trust by businessman and philanthropist Ian Taylor.
The funding will support the UK’s first ever clinical trial for patients using high-energy proton beam therapy, which will open later this year.
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Mr Taylor will make the announcement during a visit to Manchester’s internationally acclaimed specialist cancer centre, The Christie, which started treating patients in the NHS’s first high energy proton beam therapy centre in December 2018.
The donation to The Christie is part of £15m pledged by Mr Taylor on behalf of The Taylor Family Foundation to head and neck and proton beam therapy cancer research in the UK.
Mr Taylor is the chairman and former global CEO of the Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent energy trader. He was educated at King’s School in Macclesfield, close to Manchester and was treated with proton beam therapy at the PSI Clinic in Switzerland in 2018 for throat cancer.
The donation will support the team led by Dr David Thomson, a specialist in head and neck cancers at The Christie in clinical trials, scientific research, innovation through translational science and the training of future leaders in the treatment of head and neck cancer. Dr Thomson is the Chief Investigator for the trial.
The core costs for this UK first trial are being funded by Cancer Research UK, but The Taylor Family Foundation donation will widen access to proton beam therapy trials by helping with patient and carer travel costs for those who live a long way from Manchester and who will need treatment over a seven week period.
The Foundation will also fund sample collection and analysis, immune profiling, tumour genomics, physics and imaging studies to develop translational science approaches to the individualisation of future treatments. This team science work will be led by Professor Catherine West from The University of Manchester.
The donation aims to improve survival rates for patients with head and neck cancers, reduce the side effects of treatment, and to change the way head and neck cancers are treated in the UK and around the world.
The donation will also help to train future proton beam therapy research leaders through the establishment of The Taylor Family Foundation Proton Fellowship to support three new research fellows working at The Christie.
It will also drive the first UK proton therapy trials for different head and neck cancers in combination with targeted drug therapies and immunotherapy – opening up the possibility of an exciting step change in clinical outcomes.