A leading UK cancer charity, Worldwide Cancer Research, has unveiled the first research project to receive its financial backing for 2020 this week for World Cancer Day (Tuesday 4 February). This comes after a recent announcement that the charity has dedicated another incredible £4million to pioneering projects this year.  

Worldwide Cancer Research funds bold research throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Since it was founded in 1979, cancer survival rates have doubled, and the charity has funded 2,000 projects across the globe, worth over £200million.

First to be announced is a project by Dr Maite Huarte, based in Spain, that aims to identify new ways to treat drug-resistant bowel cancer – one of the most common cancers worldwide and the second biggest cancer killer in the UK today.

This is just one of the projects chosen by the charity’s Scientific Advisory Committee at its annual Bold Ideas Gathering – where some of the world’s top cancer researchers met to discuss how to invest the money raised through fundraising and generous public donations.

Dr Maite Huarte

Dr Huarte said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been chosen as one of the projects to be backed by Worldwide Cancer Research this year. While survival rates have made an impressive jump in the last 40 years, only slightly more than half of all patients survive for 10 years or longer after their diagnosis of bowel cancer. This is partly because bowel cancer can become resistant to treatments.

“We saw an urgent need for new ways to tackle this resistance and are now working to understand the behaviour of tumour cells.  We are specifically interested in the role a molecule called IncRNA plays in treatment resistance. Our long-term goal is to be able to develop therapies that target lncRNAs and stop cancers from growing. Discovery is at the heart of research and is what keeps us excited about what we do every day in our lab. We’re delighted to be working with a charity that shares this excitement with us.”

Worldwide Cancer Research is one of the few cancer charities in the UK to fund research into all types of cancer. This is because while some cancers have seen vast improvements, others have seen little or no change.

More than 110 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every day in the UK and approximately 16,300 die every year, making it the second biggest cancer killer in the country.

Dr Helen Rippon, Chief Executive at Worldwide Cancer Research said:

“When Worldwide Cancer Research was founded 40 years ago by Dr Colin Thomson, it was with one clear goal: to conquer cancer within his lifetime. Tragically, he died from multiple myeloma. His legacy is our mission – to find and fund life-saving research around the world to end the suffering and death caused by cancer.

“Bowel cancer affects a huge number of people – not only in the UK but right across the world. By funding more pioneering projects, we know that we can save more lives in the future.

“Dr Huarte and her team presented an incredible application to our panel and we can’t wait to work closely with them along with dozens of others and help some of the brightest minds in cancer research take their first step into discovery research this year.”

This year’s applications presented at the Bold Ideas Gathering came from researchers based in 24 different countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Malaysia and Scotland.

Dr John Maher, Clinical Senior Lecturer at King’s College London and Chair of the charity’s Scientific Advisory Committee said:

“Every year we see hundreds of exciting ideas from some of the world’s most innovative researchers. It is often very difficult to decide which projects deserve funding, but we knew that Dr Huarte was onto something special. It can’t be stressed enough how important the supporters of Worldwide Cancer Research are to make this research possible.”

With an average research project costing around £200,000 to fund, this year the Scientific Advisory Committee could only select around 20 from 130 projects that made it to the final stage of the grant round. That means that 110 possible cures have been lost. For more information about Worldwide Cancer Research or to make a donation to fund more bold research and help kick-start cancer cures across Scotland and the rest of the world, please visit: https://www.worldwidecancerresearch.org/.