Experimental Cancer Medicine

Early phase clinical trials underpin the introduction of innovative new treatments to the clinic. In order to achieve our vision of delivering precision medicine for all, we need the ability to offer treatments and therapies tailored to an individual, and this requires an arsenal of potential treatments to be developed.

Increased access to novel therapeutics is critical to the development of personalised medicines of the future. We need a robust and consistent pipeline of early phase trials that can provide patients with potentially life-changing treatment options.

Dr Natalie Cook

Co-Theme Lead, Experimental Cancer Medicine

Research Ambitions


Our Experimental Cancer Medicine Unit, located within The Christie’s Clinical Trials Unit, conducts early phase clinical trials in a dedicated 2,000mstate-of-the-art development with extensive inpatient and outpatient facilities and a large research sample collection laboratory. The Unit is becoming a major international centre for experimental therapeutics providing access to novel therapies for a significant proportion of patients and acting as a ‘go-to’ centre for scientifically driven and biomarker informed trials. Our overall ambition is to reach the scale and scope of early phase clinical trials achieved by the leading cancer centres in Europe and the USA and we already recruit over 300 patients per year.


In particular, we aim to be a leader in the use of liquid biopsy for personalised medicine and real-time clinical trial data acquisition to enable adaptive decision-making in phase I, and work in partnership with other centres to conduct basket/bucket trials and immunotherapy combination trials.


The flagship TARGET study (Tumour chARacterisation to Guide Experimental Targeted therapy) is an academic precision medicine study developed in Manchester and conducted in the ECMT. The TARGET study makes use of Manchester’s expertise in liquid biopsies to collect a simple blood draw from cancer patients to help match them to the right trial and the right treatment using both circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) and circulating tumour cells (CTCs).


Results from this study are very promising (analysis of the first 100 patients was published in Nature Medicine in 2019) and researchers are now looking at how to roll out this study nationally, which will significantly increase genomic profiling in the UK.


Cancer Biomarkers

Cancer biomarkers are core to our vision of delivering precision medicine for all.

Cancer Early Detection

To beat cancer sooner, we need to detect it sooner. Find out about our focus on early detection science.

Digital Cancer Centre

Digital research underpins all our research themes. Discover how we leverage technology, AI and data to improve cancer outcomes.

Integrative Pathology

Acquisition of patient samples is key to translational research and we have developed an extensive biobanking infrastructure to allow collection at all points of the treatment pathway.

Radiotherapy Bioadaption

Radiotherapy plays a vital role in the treatment of cancer and nearly 50% of people receive some form of radiotherapy at some point during cancer treatment.


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ECMC Manchester

Find out more about the Adult and Paediatric Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in Manchester (external link).