The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

Finances

YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2015- REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES, ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE PLANS. 

In January 2015 we announced a significant breakthrough in our fight against pancreatic cancer – “that consistent and significant improvements in overall survival rates can be achieved by application of a bacterially derived substance combined with the drug Gemcitabine”.

Immodulon Therapeutics, with whom we collaborate for part of our research, have since reported that they have a lot of new data and a far better idea of what cancer is all about in relation to immunity – and with four patients in a controlled clinical trial still alive, the outlook is much brighter. Four is a lot better than zero!  It wasn’t long ago that immunology was not considered an answer to pancreatic cancer, but these results show how determined our researchers are in exploring every possible avenue.  The research and controlled clinical trials are continuing.

Alongside this, research has continued into the control of proteins to reduce the sensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to Gemcitabine. For many years, Gemcitabine has been the standard treatment for pancreatic cancer but its application can produce highly toxic side effects and additionally, most patients develop a resistance to the drug.

Our research is concentrating on identifying an agent which can make a tumour sensitive to Gemcitabine, thereby allowing lower doses to be used and overcoming the problem of resistance.

This research is also continuing, as exciting preliminary findings require additional development, the aim being to identify conditions which can lead to a clinical trial.

The Trustees confirm that they have complied with the duty in Section 4 of the Charities Act 2006 to have due regard of the Commission’s general guidance on public benefit.

FINANCIAL REVIEW

During the year donations and other income amounted to £107,600 (2014: £62,499) and expenditure was £55,047 (2014: £104,431) leaving a surplus of £52,553 (2014: deficit of £41,932), which is transferred to Unrestricted and Restricted Funds brought forward.

RESERVES POLICY

The Trustees attempt to retain sufficient income reserves to enable the funding of known and potential expenditure of future research into pancreatic cancer and associated diseases, disabilities and conditions.

YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2014- REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES, ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE PLANS. 

We have continued with our research work at St George’s University of London which has shown some interesting developments.   One of the research teams has been active in continuing to research various combinations of drugs and our funding arrangements for a PhD student were extended, as he had found a new phenomenon in the area under investigation, which could explain how it may be possible to reverse the resistance of the drug Gemcitabine to other drugs or combinations of drugs.  Gemcitabine is the drug usually given to fight pancreatic cancer but for some reason, there is sometimes resistance to its effects by some cancerous cells.   This research is ongoing and although there will be a small gap in the research work as a new PhD student commences, it will continue to be given our full support.

For a long time, it has been felt that the route to combating cancer is through the body’s immune system. This is the other area we are currently funding and which is being actively pursued at St George’s.  The research work involves researching how the human immune system can be adjusted, with the help of drugs and protein control to fight cancerous cells.  Some interesting developments have been discovered and we were fortunate to have a paper published in a respected medical journal.   There is, however, a significant amount of work still to be done.

The Trustees confirm that they have complied with the duty in Section 4 of the Charities Act 2006 to have due regard of the Commission’s general guidance on public benefit.

FINANCIAL REVIEW

During the year donations and other income amounted to £62,499 (2013: £99.039) and expenditure was £104,431 (2013: £117,732) leaving a deficit of £41,932 (2013: £18,693), which is transferred to Unrestricted and Restricted Funds brought forward.

RESERVES POLICY

The Trustees attempt to retain sufficient income reserves to enable the funding of known and potential expenditure of future research into pancreatic cancer and associated diseases, disabilities and conditions.

YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2013- REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES, ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE PLANS. 

We have continued to support research at St George’s University of London into how cancerous cells become resistant to a drug called “gemcitabine”, which is considered the “gold standard” when treating pancreatic cancer and also into how that resistance can be overcome.  This has been one of the main items of research over the past few years and recently there have been some rewarding developments.

Some cancer patients acquire a resistance to gemcitabine after prolonged treatment whilst others have a natural resistance to it, for reasons which are not currently understood.  Laboratory trials have shown that even in the presence of gemcitabine, new cancerous cells multiply at the same rate as in the parent cancerous cell, can resist cell death and also the induction of aging, a process which can render the cell benign.

When a cell replicates, it undergoes various checkpoints to make sure the cell is healthy.  In a cancerous cell, these checkpoints are not regulated correctly which allows the cancerous cell to proliferate. Gemcitabine should reactivate these checkpoints but for some reason this does not happen in some patients. It has been found that some naturally produced proteins found in healthy cells are altered in the cells which are resistant to gemcitabine.  The reason for this happening and what causes it is now being researched and hopefully the results of this research will lead to clinical trials.

Additional research into the application of curcumin-the active ingredient of turmeric- has shown that curcumin can cause rapid cancerous cell death, as it can affect the checkpoints mentioned above at a different stage to that targeted by gemcitabine. This is an important starting point for research into the development of more combinations of drugs.

Elsewhere at St George’s, another research team has continued work on research into how a naturally occurring human hormone-like chemical can be targeted to kill pancreatic cancer cells, without damage to healthy cells, especially when combined with other drugs.  This research has now been accepted for publication in the respected scientific journal “Biology of the Cell”, which is a significant step forward in getting the research recognised.

Alongside this on-going project, the team’s research is also focusing on how the human immune system can be adjusted to respond effectively to cancerous cells by using a therapy which is currently being

tested in a clinical trial of pancreatic cancer. This exciting aspect of the research work is in collaboration with a research team at Bart’s Cancer Institute – a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence. The team is confident this work will strengthen the understanding of how immune cells can play an important role in fighting pancreatic and other cancers.

The Trustees confirm that they have complied with the duty in Section 4 of the Charities Act 2006 to have due regard of the Commission’s general guidance on public benefit.

 

YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2012- REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES, ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE PLANS. 

During the year, we appointed a new Trustee to our Charity- David Bates, who has been well known to one of our existing Trustees for many years.  David was not related to Ralph Bates and is not related to Virginia Bates either.  David has extensive experience in recruitment advertising and employee communications and is very keen to support us in our aim of finding a cure for a terrible illness.

Additionally, we were very pleased that Sir Peter Blake CBE, RDI, RA agreed to be our Patron.  Virginia Bates, Ralph Bates’ widow, has known Sir Peter for many years and he has been involved with our Fund since the early days.    Sir Peter became a Royal Academician in 1981, was awarded the CBE in 1983 and was knighted in 2002 for his services to art.   We look forward to working with Sir Peter to the benefit of our Fund.

We have continued to support research at St George’s University of London focused on the effect of various combinations of drugs on cancerous pancreatic cells and how resistance to drugs by some cells can be overcome. Some technical issues arose during the year but steps were taken to ensure the research work proceeded as planned. The research team continues to make progress and they have had some exciting successes but there is still a long way to go.  This research will continue to be supported.

Additionally at St George’s, we still support research into protein control as a means of killing cancerous cells and although some activity in this area had to be put on hold for a short while, the work has progressed well and some promising results are being seen.  This research will also continue to be supported.

We also provided some funding to a research team at Imperial College, London which has a bearing on the protein control work being carried out at St George’s.  The two teams exchange notes on a regular basis and although our financial input to Imperial College is not extensive, it does provide support where it is needed and we will continue to consider applications for further funding should the occasions arise.

The Trustees confirm that they have complied with the duty in Section 4 of the Charities Act 2006 to have due regard of the Commission’s general guidance on public benefit.

YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2011- REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES, ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE PLANS.   

Just after the year end our Patron, John Sullivan, died after a short illness. John was a significant supporter of the Fund and will be sadly missed. In October, we lost another of our Trustees- Michael Knight, who resigned due to ill health and shortly afterwards passed away. Michael had been a Trustee since the Fund was launched and was instrumental in helping to set it up. The Board of Trustees is actively seeking a new Patron and new Trustees.

Our research work at St George’s University of London has continued.  One team continues to focus on the effectiveness of a combination of drugs on pancreatic cancer cells and also on their effect in overcoming the resistance of these cells to various types of treatment.  Alongside this, the team continues to try to find ways to make the immune system kill pancreatic cancer cells. It is known that these cancerous cells are surrounded by other cell types which are not cancerous, but which can help the cancerous cells grow.  Our research is working towards combination treatments which will not only be more effective, but will also lack the side effects of conventional drug combinations.

Additional research we started at St George’s in April 2009 continues to be focused on the effect of protein control on cancer cells.   Over the past year researchers have continued to use different combinations of treatment to induce pancreatic cancer cells in tissue culture to undergo a process known as apoptosis – “programmed” cell death.  Promising results continue to be achieved when resistant cancer cells are treated with a combination of two reagents, which by themselves are not effective but used together, can cause rapid cancer cell death. This research is continuing.

The Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) equipment we installed in the Oncology Department at St George’s Hospital in October 2007 continues to prove beneficial.  The equipment was leased by our Fund at a cost over three years of £183,441, the primary Lease ending in October 2010 after which St George’s NHS Trust arranged a secondary lease at their cost.  More patients than were initially envisaged have undergone EUS procedures and whilst they are not all potential pancreatic cancer sufferers, they have either been given the all-clear or referred elsewhere for treatment.

During the year, we made a small donation to Imperial College London at the Hammersmith Hospital to help support research into identification of biomarkers which would allow reliable screening for pancreatic cancer at a potentially curable stage.   It transpired that this research could be complementary to our research into protein control on cancer cells and the respective teams are now starting to collaborate.

The Trustees confirm that they have complied with the duty in Section 4 of the Charities Act 2006 to have due regard of the Commission’s general guidance on public benefit.

The latest financial report can be downloaded using the link below…

RBPCRF Summary Financials