Case studies

Pioneering Cancer Research


Pioneering research at Newcastle University could lead to a ‘magic bullet’ cure for cancer.

Dr Olaf Heidenreich and his team are trying to find the best way of applying an anti-cancer drug that disrupts the genetic structure of malignant cells and destroys them, while leaving healthy tissue intact.

This will be achieved by penetrating cancer cells with the drug – the magic bullet approach. He believes his team has a five year window of opportunity in the global race to develop the treatment.

Dr Heidenreich hopes this will boost to the ambitions of Newcastle Science City to see the North East at the international forefront of healthcare development. The research is being made possible, he says, thanks to innovative funding from the Medical Research Council.

With the help of the council’s Development Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS), the team at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research believes it is on course to develop a life-saving treatment.

“Without DPFS funding this research would have been very difficult to fund. It intentionally goes for very risky projects and applies strict milestones,” explained Dr Heidenreich. “But if you have a dream of getting a cure for cancer then it is the right way to go.”

He recommends DPFS as a means of enabling other types of valuable but high risk research to go forward.

The Northern Institute for Cancer Research, he added, is unique for its complete range of equipment and expertise. Much of this has been made possible by cancer charities, and he highlighted the “amazing” support of the late Sir Bobby Robson.