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Cancer cure at King's Cross hub

PUBLISHED: 14:52 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:15 07 September 2010

Katie Davies KING'S Cross is due to become one of the most important hubs of scientific research in the world and will be at the forefront of curing diseases like HIV, cancer, swine and bird flu. That's according to planners of a new £500million super-la

Katie Davies

KING'S Cross is due to become one of the most important hubs of scientific research in the world and will be at the forefront of curing diseases like HIV, cancer, swine and bird flu.

That's according to planners of a new £500million super-lab for the area, who spoke to the Ham&High this week.

Organisers at the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) say if their plans get the go-ahead from Camden Council next month, the borough could be the birthplace of some of the most important scientific discoveries of the next century.

The lab, backed by a consortium of Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, UCL and the Wellcome Trust, will be built on land behind the British Library and is planned as a focus point for a cluster of scientific institutions in that area, as well as the global stage.

Programme director Fay Gillott said: "There is sufficient space for 1,300 scientists, which will make it the second largest centre in Europe and certainly big enough to attract the recruitment from world class scientific research.

"King's Cross will become a centre for scientific excellence not just on a national level. There is a real sense of excitement about this project among the global scientific community."

The centre bought the Brill Place land from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2007. Early protests were made, with a petition to parliament calling for the lab to be relocated because of the potential terrorism risk and concerns about animal testing. Critics also say the lab could be subject to hazardous leaks.

However, the organisers have dismissed the concerns, saying the unit will be secure against risks and early criticism has been misplaced.

Ms Gillott said: "We had expected more protest and it has all been fairly quiet actually. I think the message is getting out there to people that this is more about looking after mankind and not about cruelty to animals or being a danger.

"No primates will be used, primarily it will be mice and the official requirements for keeping mice are so high it has been likened to 'mice hotels' because they are so well looked after. There will certainly be no cruelty. Animals are only used when they are absolutely essential.

"It is also about improving the whole area of Somers Town. The area is getting a big lift and this is just part of that. Local people will be able to apply for jobs in the centre."

Organisers are meeting with the council later this month to discuss their planning application. Under the council's planning brief, the land is meant to be used in part for housing which won't form part of UKCMRI's plan but they have offered to make contributions to education in Camden and Islington.

They hope the plans will go to public consultation next month and tenders will be invited from construction firms. Further details on the specific research taking place at the lab will be revealed closer to its opening date, earmarked for 2014.

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