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Thursday, 21 January 2021

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Scottish charity boosts research funding into liver cancer

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SCOTLAND’S only cancer research charity, Worldwide Cancer Research, has committed £430,000 of extra funding into liver cancer research – a rising cancer killer in Scotland – over the next three years. That brings the charity’s current funding on liver cancer research to £678,229.00.

This announcement comes just days after brand new data from the Scottish Cancer Registry revealed that Scotland saw a dramatic increase in liver cancer for both females (56%) and males (37%) in the decade leading up to 2018.

Although treatments for liver cancer exist, it is still classified as one of the less survivable cancers in the UK. Liver cancer kills just under 600 people each year in Scotland alone. About half of these cancers are preventable through behavioural and lifestyle changes, with obesity, smoking, infections and alcohol being among the most common risks.

The Scotland-based charity funds bold new research throughout the country and the rest of the world into all types of cancer. 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.

Worldwide Cancer Research is currently funding just under £700,000 into liver cancer research thanks to a boost from two new projects started this year: Professor Raul Mendez in Spain and Georg Halder in Belgium. This is part of the wider £4million that the charity has devoted to discovery research this year.

Professor Georg Halder and his team at the VIB vzw Leuven research institute in Belgium are seeking to better understand regenerative cancer therapy – an entirely new approach to treating cancer that his team only recently discovered. The therapy works by exploiting the fact that liver cells can regenerate themselves when they become damaged. They hope that with more research their approach could be used to treat different types of liver cancer.

He said:

“Regenerative cancer therapy is a completely new strategy to fight cancer. We found that when stimulating regeneration in normal cells around liver tumours, it caused tumours to shrink dramatically.

“Unfortunately, most liver cancers occur in livers that are already damaged by the accumulation of fat or alcohol. By studying the effects of this new therapy in human cancer cells in diseased livers, we hope to find out more about this new therapeutic approach and hopefully pave the way for its use in patients in the future.”

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

“Rates of liver cancer have been soaring since the 1970s. But treatment remains a challenge. That is why there is an urgent need for research into new therapeutic approaches, such as Professor Halder’s.

“By funding more discovery research, we know that we can save more lives in the future. We are thrilled to be able to help scientists like Professor Halder take the first step to finding new cures for cancer – especially in times like these. While COVID-19 has had devastating effects across the world, it has demonstrated the power research has to change the world for the better. Research will bring us back together.”

With an average research project costing around £200,000 to fund, this year the charity’s Scientific Advisory Committee could only select around 20 from 130 projects that made it to the final stage. That means that 110 possible cures have been lost.

For more information about Worldwide Cancer Research, or to find out how your kindness could start new cancer cures, please visit: https://www.worldwidecancerresearch.org/.

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