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Cancer Research UK, Partners Announce New Alliance for Early Cancer Detection

NEW YORK – Cancer Research UK and partners at several British and American institutions this week announced an alliance to develop new strategies and technologies for early-stage cancer detection.

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) involves investigators from CRUK, Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, University College London, the University of Manchester, and Oregon Health and Science University.

CRUK will invest £40 million ($52 million) over the next five years to support the alliance, while the US partners will invest $20 million to support research projects and infrastructure.

Michelle Mitchell, CRUK's chief executive, said in a statement that the alliance aims to "develop effective new ways to detect cancer earlier," and that only international partnerships can deliver results. "Benefits for patients will only be realized if early cancer detection leaders from around the world come together," she said. "No more siloes, no more missed opportunities."

The agenda for ACED includes developing new imaging techniques and robotics to detect tumors and precancerous lesions, generating less-invasive blood, breath, and urine tests, and using artificial intelligence and big data to look for signs of cancer missed by other techniques.

Organizers said the alliance will have a "globally unique platform" to test out new tools in real-world hospital and healthcare settings. They will also engage pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to better reach patients. Another goal is to train a new generation of early cancer detection leaders.

The US centers taking part in ACED include the Canary Center at Stanford and OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's CEDAR Center. Sam Gambhir, director of the Canary Center, said in a statement that the new alliance will "bring great opportunities for truly transformative approaches to be jointly conceived, tested, and deployed."

The Canary Center has expertise in developing and integrating in vivo diagnostics, such as imaging, and in vitro diagnostics, such as blood-based molecular tests. The center maintains programs in molecular imaging, proteomics, chemistry, cell and molecular biology, and bioinformatics.

"Our greatest chances in winning the war against cancer lie in tackling the front end of the cancer problem and not after cancer is more widespread and heterogeneous," Gambhir said.