News Release

Leading cancer charity raises concern over a lack of funding into new cures

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Worldwide Cancer Research

  • New research shows that funding for discovery research has declined by around 25% since 2006.
  • A decline in funding now could impact the development of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer in the future.

The UK based charity, Worldwide Cancer Research, has raised concerns over new findings, which show a shift away from funding research exploring the fundamental biology of cancer, also known as discovery research. The charity, which funds this type of research all over the world, says it is vital that funding is maintained in this area to continue starting new cancer cures.

The findings, published in the Journal of Global Oncology, shows that between 2006 and 2018 the percentage of annual funding from public and third sector organisations around the world going into discovery cancer research fell by around a quarter (or 10 percentage points). In comparison, the findings show a clear increase in the percentage of annual funding globally going towards translational or clinical cancer research.

This figure includes all non-National Institutes for Health (NIH) partner funding data collected by the International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP) - an active network of cancer research funding organizations, sharing information about funded research projects in a common database.

Dr Lynn Turner, Director of Research at Worldwide Cancer Research and co-author of the study, said: "We recognise that all aspects of the research journey have an important role to play delivering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. But the shift away from discovery research towards later stage research is worrying because it could hinder our progress to start new cancer cures of the future.

"Without this blue-sky thinking we wouldn't have the foundations in place to develop new treatments or tests for cancer. There is still so much we don't know about the fundamental biology of cancer and the move away from this type of research could lead to a knowledge gap. That's why Worldwide Cancer Research will continue to dedicate its funding to discovery research and starting new cures for cancer."

Dr Lynne Davies, Operations Manager, International Cancer Research Partnership and co-author of the study, said: "We undertook this study to highlight trends in cancer research funding through an aggregated analysis of 260,000 projects funded by 120 partner organizations and institutes between 2006 and 2018. We found that investment in research from our partners increased by nearly $3 billion US dollars during this period and that funding for cancer research shifted to be more translational and clinical in focus.

"We also found that funding for all major cancer types increased between 2006 and 2018, and that additional funding was allocated to cancers of high incidence or mortality.

"We hope that our study will be of benefit to research funders around the world as it highlights gaps for future research to enable strategic, focussed research and funding decisions."


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