Former England and Wolverhampton Wanderers star Geoff Thomas will press the Government for more funding to beat leukaemia when he speaks to MPs today.
Thomas, a leukaemia survivor himself, is leading a presentation to the All Party Cancer Group of MPs at Westminster, at the invitation of Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride (Con) and the committee chairman Ian Gibson (Lab Norwich North).
He is aiming to raise at least £20 million in public and private funding to develop leukaemia and other blood cancer treatments.
The cash, which could come from business sponsorship as well as the NHS, would pay for specialist research at six of the UK’s top research hospitals, including University Hospital Birmingham.
Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2004, but this treatment is not suitable for all leukaemia sufferers. Each year, 25,000 new cases of leukaemia or related blood disorders develop in the UK.
He said: “These new drug and transplant therapies will save lives and it’s only lack of money that’s stopping them getting into clinical trials and creating new treatments for patients.
“We are determined to persuade the Government to invest in our initiative.”
Professor Charles Craddock, from the University Hospital Birmingham, said: “Currently the development of these new and often complex therapies is being hampered by the absence of an appropriate clinical trials infrastructure allowing their rapid introduction into clinical practice.
“As a consequence patients are failing to benefit from the billions of pounds which have been invested into basic medical research and there is now an urgent need to fund a network of leukaemia trials units across the UK.”