The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

Newsletter Summer 2016

Almost the end of July already but at least the sun is shining now! I imagine that we all thought a few weeks ago that it would be another wet-wet summer! Apparently the “official” line is that June wasn’t as cold and miserable as we all thought it was. It was where we were!

Our supporters have been busy again!

michelle-hobbsVirgin London Marathon.

We had two runners in the Virgin London Marathon this year and both completed the course. Tina Bolton made it in just over 5 hours 22 minutes which is a great effort and we’re very grateful for her fund raising efforts. No photos unfortunately but we’ll see what we can do for the next Newsletter.

And Michelle Hobbs completed the course in 4 hours 36 minutes! She looks extraordinarily fresh in the photo on the right- that’s Michelle in the red top.

She told me by email; “Legs are a little stiff still and I understand I don’t need 10 toe nails anyway!! Thank you for providing me with this fantastic opportunity to run at this event for your charity. The money is still coming in! Same again next year?! “

If you and your toe nails really want to and are up to it, why not Michelle!

craig-murrayAnd in Edinburgh, Craig Murray ran the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May. The course is around the City. It’s very well supported-
it’s second to the Virgin London Marathon- and is apparently the fastest marathon (“Runners’ World” 2008). Wouldn’t be if we were in it!
Here’s Craig, looking fit and well! He completed the run in 4 hours 31 minutes. Brilliant!

craig-murray1Many thanks to all the above and to those who supported them, for their efforts.

Whilst our donors have been busy raising money to help in the never ending fight against a terrible illness, we have been busy as usual making sure your cash is spent wisely. There are forecasts that instances of pancreatic cancer will rise to almost 12,000 a year by 2030 from just under 9,000 at present, partly because there is more awareness. Survival rates are still miserable and have not improved over the last 40 years or so despite the research which is being funded by ourselves and other charities. It’s a vicious illness.

survival-trendsAge-standardised ten-year net survival trends, adults (15 to 99 years) England and Wales.

Now and again we publish the Cancer Research UK chart of cancer survival rates in England and Wales. The table on the left is the latest available and unfortunately it shows pancreatic cancer right at the bottom still, with no recordable improvement since 1971-72.

Hopefully the dedication of our research teams and the research which you are helping us to fund, will start paying off soon.

With acknowledgements to Cancer Research UK.

Meanwhile, it’s worthwhile reiterating some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer;

  • Yellow skin or eyes and /or itchy skin.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Tummy pain, especially at the top of the abdomen, which may radiate to the back.
  • Bowel changes such as oily, floating faeces.

Does lifestyle play a part?

  • About a third of pancreatic cancers are linked to lifestyle. The two main risk factors are obesity and smoking followed by high consumption of alcohol and red and processed meats.

And remember too that pancreatic cancer does not discriminate between sexes and is not age related. The important thing is an early diagnosis.

Our immunology research at St George’s has continued under the direction of Dr. Androulla Elia, a Senior Research Fellow who has successfully supervised two other researchers. Their research has shown that following the treatment of pancreatic cancer cells with gemcitabine and a selection of other substances, they have observed;

  • Strong evidence of synergy between gemcitabine and some of the other substances trialled.
  • A reduction in the growth rate of pancreatic cancer cells.
  • Pancreatic cancer cell death.
  • An increase in the level of a tumour suppressor protein in these cells.

Emphasis is now being given to establishing the levels of the tumour suppressor protein required, the mechanism required to achieve the results and understanding the involvement of proteins in cancerous cell death.
This is a good result and it is hoped that details will soon be published in a “high-impact” medical journal. We are very grateful to Androulla’s team which has worked hard to achieve these results. Many of the hours they work are voluntary, which indicates their high level of commitment. Many thanks.

Elsewhere at St George’s, a separate team has continued research involving combinations of various drugs with gemcitabine, non-specific vaccines and vitamin D3 but progress has been hampered by the lack of suitable laboratory technicians. This has been rectified and it’s now full steam ahead with the research.

We have continued to support Mr Adam Frampton at Imperial College, London in his research into identifying pancreatic cancer indicators. As we mentioned earlier, it is important to diagnose pancreatic cancer as soon as possible and this research is essential to help in that early diagnosis.

Don’t forget! We now have a Memorials section on our web site.
If you would like to record something in memory of a loved one including a small photograph if you wish, email the photo and text to us (see email address on page 1) and we’ll post it on our web site. Maximum size is about the area of a credit card.

It’s worrying that there is always something in the media about charities not spending enough of their income on charitable causes. It’s not our place to criticise what others do, but we are proud of the fact that over the twelve years to 31 March 2015, our Fund has spent approximately 98% of all income on charitable activities. None of our Trustees are remunerated and none claim expenses and we don’t spend your hard earned donations on fancy glossy leaflets as you can tell from this Newsletter!

It can’t be denied that like all charities, we are finding it tough to keep the funding of our research at the level we would like it to be. Economic factors, the EU situation and just general uncertainty doesn’t help. But many thanks to all of you who have given up your time, used all your energy, lost toenails and donated your hard earned cash to us. It’s your donations which keep us going and we are very grateful.

Have a good summer!
The Trustees.
July 2016

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