Manchester hospital fire: Fears research and equipment worth millions 'destroyed in cancer centre blaze'

Katie Forster
Five fire engines were called to the Cancer Research UK Institute at the Christie hospital: Getty Images

Important research and equipment worth millions of pounds are feared to have been destroyed in a fire at a cancer institute in Manchester.

No patients or staff were injured when the blaze broke out on the roof of the research centre at the Christie hospital on Wednesday morning.

But vital data, lab equipment and expensive DNA sequencing machines may be lost, said the head of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute.

Richard Marais told The Guardian his team had managed to save 25 years of clinical samples, but hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals and small lab equipment were likely destroyed when the building's ceiling collapsed.

Computers with important data had "almost certainly" been lost, said Professor Marais. A £1.4m super computer, two DNA sequencing machines and two imaging machines used to analyse cancerous cells may also have been damaged in the fire.

More than 100 firefighters were called to tackle the fire as black smoke billowed from the three-storey building housing the leading research centre.

All areas associated with the institute, including patient areas, were evacuated as staff and patients elsewhere in the hospital were advised to continue as normal.

Professor Marais called the fire's effect "heartrending," adding: “The quality of the institute is the people. Not necessarily the equipment – that’s what allows us to do what we can do – but we have a fantastic group of international people here."

Cancer Research UK has launched an appeal for donations to allow research to resume as soon as possible, as scientists assess the extent of the damage.

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