Norfolk and Waveney cancer charity, Big C, has announced their latest round of grant awards for cancer research and equipment projects taking place at the Norwich Research Park, totalling over £332,000.
The grants have been awarded to science and medical schools across the University of East Anglia totalling £294,441.37 and a medical equipment award to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) for £38,054.
Funding for the internationally significant breakthrough project into prostate cancer, known as the Tiger Test, has been awarded to eminent cancer scientist Professor Colin Cooper and his team at Norwich Medical School to support clinical trials focused on distinguishing aggressive from non-aggressive prostate cancer.
The team is working towards clinical trials, following which it is hoped the Tiger Test will save lives by providing an accurate diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer, whilst sparing tens of thousands of men with clinically irrelevant ‘pussycat’ cancers from unnecessary treatment that often results in lift-changing side-effects.
The Department of Nuclear Medicine at the NNUH has received a grant to purchase and install equipment in two rooms to improve the patient experience when scanning is being undertaken. The rooms are currently undergoing planned refurbishment, when moving and static images will be enabled in LED ceiling panels with each scanner equipped with a media unit to offer music and radio. The aim is to enhance patient comfort at a particularly anxious time, when sometimes lengthy scan times are necessary.
Dr Andrew Beekman at the UEA School of Pharmacy has received funding for the first three years of a PhD post for a research project into a new, potentially lower cost, technique related to Immune Checkpoint Therapy which controls the interaction of two types of protein linked to cancer’s hallmark ability to evade the immune system. Immune Checkpoint Therapy was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2018.
Dr G Richard Stephenson and his team at the School of Chemistry at the UEA, working with Dr Andrew Chantry in the School of Biological Sciences, receive funding for a 36-month PhD post which is conducting research in the field of why an important family of proteins, which in healthy human cells prevent cancer, abnormally break-down. In previous work the team has identified a completely new process that causes the abnormal breakdown and disappearance of these ‘cancer brakes’. It has been shown that this occurs in many different types of cancer, but especially in breast and prostate cancer. In this project, the team will capitalise on these key discoveries and begin to develop new drugs that can be used to prevent cancer growth and spread.
Dr Yongping Bao at Norwich Medical School, UEA, receives a grant to purchase an Applied Biosystems (ABI) PCR machine; QuantStudio 3 to perform real-time quantitative analyses for a core technique used in molecular biology. The equipment will be located at the Bob Champion Research and Educational Building at the UEA and will be used daily by several groups investigating gene expression, genotyping and diagnosis of gut bacterial infections. This will assist research into how human genes respond to chemicals in particular foods and anti-cancer drugs. This will help to form sound dietary advice to individuals at risk of cancer and lead to personalised nutrition, which could prevent cancer.
Dr Chris Bushby, Chief Executive at Big C, said, “We are proud to announce this latest round of grants for the enormously important cancer research and equipment projects taking place on our doorstep at the Norwich Research Park. Between them, they will greatly inform our understanding of cancer, its prevention, treatment and the care we can provide for cancer patients in our community. A significant proportion of the grant funding this year goes towards creating posts for PhD students which is particularly important as this results in the training of a student to become an independent researcher with the skills and knowledge to pursue a career in cancer research.”
To learn more about the work Big C does to improve the lives of those affected by cancer in Norfolk and Waveney, please visit www.big-c.co.uk
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