Anonymous donation for the University of Southampton

An anonymous donor has gifted more than £20 million pounds to the University of Southampton and Cancer Research UK. The biggest single donation in the Universities history will create a cancer immunology centre in the Hampshire city.

Cancer Research UK will put the money towards the "Create the Change Campaign" which is raising funds for the Francis Crick Institute in London. When it opens in 2015 the institute will be the largest biomedical research building in Europe. The centre in Southampton will link up with Institute. To maximise this potential the University plans to raise a further £10 million to advance its role in cancer immunology research.

Recent research suggests that the immune system could be used to target and destroy cancer cells in the body. This has lead to hope that new targeted treatments for the disease could be developed which would be less harmful than modern chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

These cells are normally responsible for protecting the body from invasion by viruses such as measles and influenza. However, given the right education, these ‘killer’ immune cells can control and shrink cancer and give long-lasting protection. For many years researchers in Southampton have led the way in this fight. We were one of the first units to isolate antibodies and develop vaccines that trigger immunity against cancers of the prostate, colon and against leukaemia.

“We have been particularly successful at taking discoveries from the laboratory and offering them to patients in clinical trials. It has been

a long wait, but this work is now paying dividends and shows the true potency of the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

– Professor Martin Glennie, Head of Cancer Sciences and Professor of Immunochemistry at the University,

We're extremely grateful for these extraordinarily generous donations. The gift for the Francis Crick Institute accounts for 10% of the total we need to raise and takes us a huge step closer towards achieving our ambition of creating this world-class institute to help us beat cancer."

– Dr Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK