The MCRC and its partner organisations provide the infrastructure and resources necessary to facilitate high-quality cancer research. Much of this is found either on the main University campus, the central site of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, in Withington on the site of The Christie, or at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

3.0 T MRI
NIHR / Wellcome Trust CRF

Extensive medical imaging facilities are available across the two main research sites. The Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre offers PET and MR imaging, including two research-dedicated clinical PET scanners – one of which is high-resolution – and two pre-clinical PET cameras, along with a 1.5 T research MRI scanner and a table-top pre-clinical MRI system. There is also an on-site cyclotron, radiochemistry production facilities and analytical and biochemistry laboratories for the development of novel radiolabelled compounds. Elsewhere there are two 3.0 T research-focused clinical MRI scanners, higher-field pre-clinical MRI equipment and a PET-MR machine.

The Christie is home to the largest early-phase clinical trials unit in the world, with around 400 trials taking place at any one time. Completed in 2010, their £35 million, three storey building also houses the biggest chemotherapy facility in the UK.

Research-dedicated PET scanner
Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre

Within The Christie radiotherapy department, there are 11 linear accelerators, a superficial radiotherapy unit, two CT simulators and a CT scanner. There are also satellite radiotherapy centres located in Salford and Oldham. The Salford satellite centre also offers a specialist stereotactic radiosurgery service, which is currently used to treat small malignant and benign brain lesions. In addition, the main Christie site is now home to an MRI-guided radiotherapy system – one of only two in the UK – thanks to a consortium led by manufacturer Elekta. According to recent figures from the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), doctors at The Christie recruited the largest number of patients between 2011-2013 in clinical trials of radiation-based therapies.

In 2018, The Christie became the first NHS centre in the UK to provide high energy proton beam therapy (PBT). The centre in Manchester includes a fourth gantry that is dedicated to research into this cutting-edge treatment. 

The Christie

At the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Advanced Imaging and Flow Cytometry departments provide cutting-edge tools for both the fundamental and translational study of cancer, from molecular interactions in primary cells through to tissue-wide responses. Their equipment enables high content screening and super resolution microscopy – using a state of the art gSTED system – as well as cell sorting and analysing, spectroscopy and both confocal and widefield microscopy.

Histology works with researchers to enable sectioning, staining and mounting of tissue samples. Unstained high-quality paraffin fixed or frozen sections are produced for immunohistochemical analysis, in situ hybridisation and laser capture microdissection, or alternatively the sections may be stained for morphological examination. Their various platforms enable the analysis of tissue, cells and CTCs, and much is fully automated to allow high throughput scanning and virtual microscopy.

Core facilities support a wide variety of molecular biology projects. HiSeq 2500 and MiSeq high throughput sequencing equipment offers exome sequencing, RNA sequencing and ChIP-based sequencing. High throughput qPCR, SNP detection and targeted sequencing are also possible thanks to a Fluidigm Biomark. Additionally, protein and peptide mass spectrometry requirements are supported by a biological mass spectrometry facility that offers an array of qualitative and quantitative analyses.

High Performance Computing (HPC) has become a pre-requisite for the proper exploitation of cancer genomics data, in part, a consequence of the high volumes of data produced by recent advances in deep sequencing, imaging, and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The Institute's Scientific Computing team supports translational cancer research, and has the specific purpose of providing a state-of-the-art HPC service and data management service. We are establishing a Cancer Genome Data Centre (CGDC), the most advanced High Performance Bio-Computing facility, to support the processing and interpretation of high throughput genomics data.