8th May 2015

The future of cancer treatment set to be transformed through the opening of new Cancer Institute

Poundbury Cancer Institute in Dorset will be opened officially by HRH The Prince of Wales on Friday the 8th May 2015.

NHS patients will soon benefit from the opening of a new cancer centre specialising in the use of diagnostics for targeted cancer medicines used to treat some of the UK’s most common cancers

Standard cancer therapies, involving the use of non-specific and extremely toxic chemicals, are being replaced by a new generation of innovative and highly-targeted therapies. Based on the tumour’s genetic profile, these treatments interact with specific targets on cancer cells, reducing undesired side effects and increasing treatment effectiveness.

Certain targeted treatments have been available on the NHS for a number of years. However, concerns regarding the sensitivity of the diagnostics used to select patients for a particular treatment, have limited their uptake. In addition, clinicians were often unsure if patients were receiving the optimal treatment for their tumour type.

The Poundbury Cancer Institute hopes to accelerate the uptake of personalised medicines in the treatment of cancer. This will be achieved by acting as a test bed for new diagnostic tests developed in partnership with the diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry. The Institute then plans to improve cancer outcomes by widening patient access to a large array of high quality cancer tests through links with key NHS cancer centres.

Dr Corrado D’Arrigo, Consultant Histopathologist, Dorset County Hospital said:

"The her-2 test in breast cancer was one of the first companion diagnostics introduced in the late 90's, yet it took us over 10 years to improve the quality of her-2 testing across the UK laboratories to the point that clinicians could be sure they were giving patients the most effective treatment.
We are facing an avalanche of new companion diagnostics and we cannot afford similar delays. We need to create a network of centres like Poundbury Cancer Institute to help the NHS deliver all these new tests

Not only will the new centre be at the forefront of developing novel diagnostic technologies, such as new biomarker tests in common cancers like bowel and lung cancer, it will also help develop robust systems via the UK National External Quality Assessment Service, to ensure that the diagnostic tests used in the NHS are performed to a high quality. The institute will offer training to other NHS laboratories and pathology services to ensure a spread of best practice across the UK.   

Dr Sarah Wedden, Senior Research Scientist at Dorset County Hospital said:

There has been a radical transformation in the availability of new targeted cancer therapies in the last 10 years, however the NHS has not always been effective at adopting these new technologies. We hope to change this through Poundbury Cancer Institute which will act as a test bed for the introduction of new diagnostics.

Mr Keith Miller, Director of CADQAS CIC said:

This unique combination of activities taking place at Poundbury Cancer Institute will assist with the design and delivery of personalised medicine across the UK.

Mr Christopher Parker, Managing Director of Roche Diagnostics UK & Ireland said:

The diagnostic tools developed at Poundbury will enable scientists to take their research from bench to bedside in a more personalised way than has previously been possible, thus increasing the benefit for patients.


POUNDBURY CANCER INSTITUTE has been founded by Dr Corrado D’Arrigo and Dr Teresa Thomas, consultant pathologists at Dorset County Hospital. The Institute has been set up by local NHS staff with a combination of private monies, commercial funding from Roche Diagnostics & charitable donations.

The institute hosts CADQAS – Cancer Diagnostic Quality Assurance Services – an independent, not-for-profit Community Interest Company that works with the pharmaceutical and analytical industry to implement new cancer tests across the UK and many other countries.

CADQAS CIC was founded by Mr Keith Miller and Dr Sarah Wedden in 2014 to work independently to assure the quality and accuracy of new diagnostic and predictive tests before they are used clinically to identify groups of cancer patients suitable for targeted drug therapy.

The Institute also has a tailor-made Education Centre designed to train medical and scientific staff in the use and interpretation of these new tests in order to improve UK laboratory practice. CADQAS also supports UK National External Quality Assessment Service (UK NEQAS-ICC&ISH) to establish external quality assurance for new tests.

The Institute evolved from a collaboration started in 2012 between UK NEQAS-ICC&ISH, Roche Diagnostics & Dorset County Hospital, which led to the following successes:

  • The development of a colorectal cancer classification system to stratify colorectal cancer and provide information on prognosis;
  • The development of new staining techniques in prostate cancer which improved the speed and accuracy of pathological diagnoses and prognostic information;
  • The implementation of fast, local testing to determine the suitability of patients for new and effective targeted therapies in melanoma.


Cancer therapy has undergone a radical transformation in the past 10 years. Standard therapies, involving non-specific and extremely toxic chemicals with low cure rates and severe side effects, are being replaced by a new generation of biological molecules. These interact with specific targets on cancer cells, reducing undesired side effects and increasing treatment effectiveness. The new treatments, generically referred to as ”targeted chemotherapy”, rely on the selection of patients most likely to respond well to one of a number of different targeted agents

Key to the effectiveness of targeted chemotherapy are companion diagnostic tests that help identify the correct therapy for each patient – “personalised medicine.”  Choosing the wrong therapy because of incorrect test results is harmful to patients, whilst long delays in receiving test results compromise treatment outcome. In the past few years there has been a flood of new targeted therapies, each requiring a new companion diagnostic test. Since only a few of these tests are readily available, a major obstacle we face is to provide all new tests timely and with the required quality. About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and neuroscience. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostics that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. Founded in 1896, Roche has been making important contributions to global health for more than a century.
Twenty-four medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and chemotherapy.

In 2013 the Roche Group employed over 85,000 people worldwide, invested 8.7 billion Swiss francs in R&D and posted sales of 46.8 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information, please visit www.roche.com

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