Cancer Research UK and the Norwegian Cancer Society enter partnership to broaden early-phase trial capabilities and maximise patient benefit

Published date:
March 19 2024

Today, Cancer Research UK and the Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS), two leading cancer research charities announce a new multi-project strategic partnership to maximise the unique drug development capabilities of both countries to benefit people affected by cancer.

Under the international partnership, NCS intends to share funding and expertise to accelerate the development of cancer drug candidates with the team at Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development (CDD). Cancer Research UK’s CDD will be utilising its 30 years of experience in bringing first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics through clinical development and with NCS’s partnership, will be able to bring more drug candidates to clinical trial stage.

Both parties will have opportunities to identify and nominate potential projects from academia and biotech companies for collaboration and progression to first-in-human studies. 

Potential projects will be evaluated through the CDD’s review process, including both an internal assessment and an external review by its New Agents Committee.* Suitable projects will then be brought into the CDD post-approval 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.

Director of Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development, Dr Lars Erwig, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the NCS, who will be vital in helping us progress more of the most promising early-stage clinical candidates into first-in-human studies.

“The Centre for Drug Development is the world’s only charity-run drug development facility with a track record of success in bringing through novel therapies suitable for late-stage development.

“With Cancer Research Horizons primed and ready to take forward any successful treatments through commercial partnerships, all parties are excited for this new opportunity to bring more cutting-edge cancer therapies to more patients diagnosed with cancer.

“Collaboration with like-minded organisations such as the NCS is critical to our work. We look forward to seeing how this partnership develops, and which projects will be progressed with the collaboration of our Norwegian collaborators.”

General Secretary  at NCS, Ingrid Stenstadvold Ross said: 

“This is a significant milestone! We have long been concerned that it takes far too long for life-saving innovations to reach patients. Partnering up with Cancer Research UK gives us a unique opportunity to make a real difference.

“This will be a new role for the NCS, but we truly believe that charity-led drug development offers many advantages – especially the fact that we can take on projects that have high potential patient benefit but are too financially risky for the industry, for example in rare cancers. 

“We are incredibly fortunate to have been invited to take part in the success that Cancer Research UK has created at the CDD. Through this collaboration, we as a patient organisation will achieve much more than we could have done on our own. We look forward to developing this partnership further with our shared competence, funding, and core vision of improving the lives of those affected by cancer.”



For interview requests or other media enquiries, contact Fiona Scott in the Cancer Research UK press office on [email protected] / 020 3469 5128, or out of hours, on 020 3469 8301.

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 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 30 years, taking over 160 potential new anti-cancer agents into clinical trials in patients. It currently has a portfolio of 16 new anti-cancer agents in preclinical development, Phase I or early Phase II 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. F

For further information about the work of CDD, please visit

About the Norwegian Cancer Society

The Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS) is one of the largest organisations in Norway. It represents the voices of those affected by cancer. We have 128,000 members, 27,000 volunteers and 190 employees. All are dedicated to promoting cancer cause. NCS works continuously to improve society’s attitude to the prevention and treatment of cancer. We fight cancer locally, nationally and globally. Through research and preventive measures, information, support, advice and lobbying. The Norwegian Cancer Society’s purpose is to work to prevent and fight cancer. And to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Our vision is a life without cancer.

For further information about the work of NCS, please visit

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 £400+ 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. 

For more information and to get in touch with the team, visit