Cancer Research UK and the KWF Dutch Cancer Society enter partnership to bring multiple drugs into clinical development

Published date:
November 6 2023

Cancer Research UK, and the KWF Dutch Cancer Society (KWF), two of the world’s largest charitable funders of cancer research, today announce a new multi-project strategic partnership to advance promising therapeutic agents for cancer through early clinical development.

Under the partnership, KWF intends to provide funding to enable the development of select early phase clinical programmes* through Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development (CDD). Cancer Research UK’s CDD will be utilising its 30 years of experience in ushering first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics through the clinic to sponsor and manage KWF-supported trials as part of the strategic alliance.

Both parties will have the opportunity to identify and nominate potential projects for clinical development. In particular, the alliance will focus on projects featuring a novel, promising, academic-derived agent which has the potential to address a high unmet clinical need. Typically, these agents are ready for the next step in development or have had their development stalled or delayed due to a lack of funding or resources.

Projects will be assessed through the CDD’s review process, comprising both an internal review and an external assessment through its New Agents Committee**. Approved projects will then be brought into the CDD for its experienced team to plan, sponsor and run an early phase clinical trial. Cancer Research UK’s innovation unit, Cancer Research Horizons, will lead on any subsequent later-stage development which may include out-licensing to a suitable third party.

As well as driving forward the shared aim to accelerate the translation of cancer research into better treatments for patients, the partnership will also serve as a knowledge-sharing platform for clinical development between the organisations.

Dr Stephen Nabarro, Interim Director of Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development, said:
“We are delighted to join forces with KWF, who will be invaluable in helping us bring more of the most promising early phase clinical agents into first in human trials.

“The Centre for Drug Development is the world’s only charity-run drug development facility with a track record of success in bringing novel therapies to a point in their development which may not have otherwise been possible.

“Collaboration with like-minded organisations is essential to what we do. We look forward to seeing where this partnership goes, and which projects will be realised with the collaboration of KWF.”

Prof. Dr Carla van Gils, Director of KWF, said:
"We are excited to provide bridging opportunities to bring academic discoveries into clinical development. Alongside the expertise and infrastructure of the Centre for Drug Development, we will help fast track these discoveries towards clinical practice.

“Many of academia’s most innovative agents can be difficult to bring into clinical development. But in collaboration with the Centre for Drug Development, we are delighted to embark on a journey where these promising early discoveries find a way into clinical testing with the aim of bringing new therapeutics to patients.

“Partnering with the Centre for Drug Development enables us to jump into the bench-to-bedside gap and fast-track academic findings into clinical trials. We look forward to strengthening early clinical oncology research on an international level and are thrilled to see what the future holds for improving therapeutic strategies for patients.”


For interview requests or other media enquiries, contact Ellie Bennett in the Cancer Research UK press office on [email protected] / 020 3469 5370, or out of hours, on 020 3469 8301.

Notes to editor

*From both the UK and the Netherlands.


About Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development

Cancer Research UK has an impressive record of developing novel treatments for cancer. The Cancer Research UK Centre for Drug Development has been pioneering the development of new cancer treatments for 25 years, taking over 140 potential new anti-cancer agents into clinical trials in patients. It currently has a portfolio of 21 new anti-cancer agents in preclinical development, Phase 1 or early Phase 2a clinical trials. Six of these new agents have made it to market including temozolomide for brain cancer, abiraterone for prostate cancer and rucaparib for ovarian cancer. Two other drugs are in late development Phase 3 trials.

About Cancer Research Horizons

Cancer Research Horizons is the innovation engine of Cancer Research UK – the world's largest charitable funder of cancer research. We bring together world-leading minds, bold ideas and the right partners to bridge the gap between academic research and taking drugs to market. We focus on the tougher, more profound ideas that can lead to true innovation, translating them into effective treatments and diagnostics for cancer patients.

To date, we've played an instrumental role in forming over 60 spin-out companies. We've helped bring 11 cancer drugs to market, borne out of Cancer Research UK's pioneering research. Through these drugs, we have enabled in excess of 6 million courses of treatment for cancer patients across the world.

With access to Cancer Research UK's network of 4,000 exceptional researchers, and £300+ million of annual research spend, we're a powerful partner in the fight to conquer cancer. By uniting our commercial partnerships and therapeutic innovation capabilities, Cancer Research Horizons is uniquely placed to support translational funding, entrepreneurial development, licensing and collaboration, spinout creation, and offer a full spectrum of drug discovery and clinical capabilities.

Every penny we make goes back into funding the next bold steps, to help bring forward the day when all cancers are conquered.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research, influence and information.
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 50 years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK wants to accelerate progress and see 3 in 4 people surviving their cancer by 2034.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into the prevention and treatment of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK is working towards a world where people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer. 

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About KWF

KWF Dutch Cancer Society was founded in 1949. Ever since then, KWF has been dedicated to support patients in every aspect of their life. For people who have not yet been diagnosed with cancer, as well as for patients who can’t be cured. Through stimulation of focused scientific research, policy making, knowledge transfer and collaboration with our stakeholders, we strive to achieve our main goals:

  • To prevent cancer wherever we can.
  • To stimulate better treatment for every type of cancer.
  • To aim for a better quality of life for (recovered) patients and their loved ones.

To ensure that high quality palliative care is available for all patients.