Cancer Grand Challenges gives a record £100m to five cancer research teams – Cancer Research UK

Facing up to cancer inequities

SAMBAI, meanwhile, are taking on the cancer inequities challenge. They’ve been funded to see why different groups of people have different chances of developing and surviving cancer. The team is also expanding Cancer Grand Challenges’ global reach to Africa, with scientists from institutions in Ghana and South Africa, as well as the US and UK. 

Together, SAMBAI will be looking at how our cancer risks and cancer outcomes are shaped by the world we live in and the one within each of us. In the first case, that means gathering data on people’s social circumstances and environments. It will also involve looking closely at people’s genes, and even considering the different ways their tumours and immune cells might interact.  

All of that will come together in an unprecedented resource – the SAMBAI Biobank and Data Repository for Cancer Equity Research – focused on breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer in people of African descent. With data on 40,000 patients, it will provide the basis for understanding why diverse populations are affected by cancer differently.  

More than that, SAMBAI hope to use what they learn to develop cancer prevention and treatment strategies designed to address cancer inequities. That’s vital, as breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers are typically more aggressive and are diagnosed at an earlier age in Black individuals. 

Challenges and change

But this is about more than the individual teams. In the years to come, the SAMBAI Biobank and Data Repository for Cancer Equity Research will enable researchers from around the world to ask and answer some of the most important questions around cancer inequalities.

Similarly, members of Team PROTECT will work with policymakers to find ways to fund more drug development for children’s and young people’s cancers. That would make announcements like this one – of £40m dedicated to helping more children live longer, better lives – far more common.  

The £100m pledged today will fund five world-leading teams through five years of vital work. But they were chosen for more than that. These teams can make a difference – for scientists, doctors, politicians, parents and people with cancer – for generations to come.


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