The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

Newsletter December 2017

It’s that time of year again! It doesn’t seem that long since we were distributing our Summer Newsletter and here we are with forecasts of poor weather. In a couple of months, we will have more daylight hours and at the end of March 2018, summer time begins! Something to look forward to after Christmas but doesn’t time fly?

The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund is almost 26 years old. It was set up in January 1992 following the untimely death of the actor Ralph Bates in March 1991.

Here’s Ralph as villainous George Warleggan in the original BBC TV series which was broadcast between 1975 and 1977. He starred in 23 of the 29 programs in the series and played alongside actress Angharad Rees (on the left), who also died of pancreatic cancer in July 2012. She was the first Demelza.

Over the last 26 years, from your generous donations, the Fund has been able to support several research teams at various institutions, including St George’s University of London in Tooting, which is our main research centre. We are determined to find a cure for a most debilitating and aggressive illness which can strike anyone at any time and with your continued support hope we will be able to do so.

So, what have we been doing?

Research at St George’s lead by Dr. Androulla Elia is continuing. Her team is researching the use of proteins and also the combination of proteins with drugs, to kill cancerous cells and it has already been successfully demonstrated that;

  • a reduction in the rate of growth of pancreatic cells can be achieved and
  • pancreatic cancer cells can be killed and
  • the level of protein which suppresses cancerous cell growth can be increased.

Ways of increasing the level of this protein and why the level is reduced in the first place, are now being investigated. The team feel they have generated “some exciting preliminary data” over the last year or so. Promising results but as ever, a long way to go.

Prof. Dalgleish and his team at St George’s have also been busy!

In our last Newsletter, we mentioned that success of the application of combinations of drugs depends;

  • on the sequence in which the various drugs are given and
  • the number of days between each application and
  • that giving one drug before the other has a greater effect than the other way around.

One of the major problems is finding drugs which are non-toxic or have low toxicity, as it’s no good solving one problem and creating another. Identification of new low-toxicity drugs capable of enhancing the immunity properties of standard drugs is required and this, amongst other things, is now being researched.

And at Kingston University, the short-term project we funded is now complete. The team identified an antibody which is at higher levels than normal when pancreatic cancer is present and these antibodies could be useful as a diagnostic tool. More next time!

Our researchers are dedicated people. The different teams collaborate on their research, as it’s not a competition to find a cure and this collaboration helps to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of effort. It also ensures that all avenues are being explored, as there is no panacea for pancreatic cancer.

It’s always good to be able to thank our supporters.

Nicola Hobbs’ dad died from pancreatic cancer in 2001 and she decided that instead of buying wedding favours for her guests at her recent wedding to Richard Brake, that she would support our Fund and arranged for her guests to do so too, in memory of her dad. Nicola- many thanks for thinking of us and for your generosity. We hope you and Richard will have many happy years together.

And Sam Baly, the son of Nigel, one of our Trustees and grandson of Pat, one of our founder Trustees who died last year, is running for us in the London Marathon next year. Thanks Sam!

Sincere thanks also to all our other donors.

With this Newsletter we have included a leaflet helping to explain pancreatic cancer and why the pancreas is such an important organ. It’s important that pancreatic cancer is caught early, so if you recognise any of the symptoms we have mentioned or know someone who may be suffering, please do something about it.

Like a lot of small charities, we are finding it tough to attract donations. None of our Trustees is remunerated and do not claim expenses. We do not bombard you with lots of expensive, fancy, glossy flyers and pens, as we believe your money should be spent on research. We will continue our research for as long as we can because we are committed to finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.

Our season’s greetings to all of you and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

The Trustees.

December 2017.

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