The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

Summer 2017 Newsletter

You may remember that in our December 2016 Newsletter, we noted that one of our founder Trustees, Pat Baly had passed away. On a much brighter note, his son, Nigel has joined us as a Trustee. Nigel has always shown an interest in our Fund and expressed an interest in continuing the great work achieved by his dad. We’re very pleased to welcome Nigel and look forward to his being one of our team. That’s Nigel on the right.

So, what’s been happening?

It doesn’t seem that long ago since the last Newsletter was being put together but nonetheless, our research has continued and we have added some more research activities.
Dr Androulla Elia at St George’s University of London has continued research into the use of proteins to kill cancerous cells and has successfully demonstrated that following the treatment of those cells with a combination of Gemcitabine (the standard chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer) and a small protein released by cells and which affect the behavior of cells around them, that;

  • the growth of pancreatic cells is reduced.
  • pancreatic cancer cell death is induced and
  • there is an increase in the protein which suppresses cancerous cell growth.

This is a step in the right direction and research is continuing which will include the analysis of cell samples taken from pancreatic cancer patients. Androulla and her team now collaborate with a Cancer Research Centre in France, which eliminates duplication of effort and provides the team with additional facilities and input. And elsewhere in St George’s, research by Professor Gus Dalgleish and his team into the application of combinations of drugs, has progressed well and has shown that the success of treatment depends;

  • on the sequence in which the drugs are given and
  • the number of days duration over which each drug is administered before the next is given and
  • that giving one drug before the other has greater effect than the other way around
  • .

The team is excited by these results as the drugs tested are already readily available, are relatively inexpensive and are almost non-toxic. Overall, these results will support the call for clinical trials to use the drugs in patients with pancreatic cancer. Good news!

We are also funding research at the School of Life Science, Kingston University in Surrey. This is a short-term research project looking into the way in which laboratory produced proteins fix themselves to the surface of pancreatic cancer cells to help to kill those cells or enhance immunity. This is important for cancer therapy. More about this next time. All our research teams work extremely hard and are no doubt thinking about their research 24 hours a day. It takes a lot of commitment to overcome some frustrating delays, bureaucracy and results, so full marks to all those involved.

And what of our tireless supporters?

Not much has happened since our last Newsletter but at the end of August, we have a young lady making a sky-dive at a site near Salisbury, weather permitting, of course. Good luck! We’d much rather keep our feet on the ground but many thanks in advance for your great support.

We already have two runners participating in the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon in March next year. This half marathon will take in some of the capital’s most famous landmarks, such as Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, the Tower of London and Big Ben. If you fancy running for us, let us know and we’ll do our best to get you a place.

It never does any harm reiterating some of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Spread the word! If someone you know mentions they have any of these symptoms, it’s good to advise them to see heir doctor- pronto!

  • 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.

And remember – pancreatic cancer does not discriminate between sexes and is not age related. Early diagnosis is essential. And the worse of it is;

  • Over 9500 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. That’s about 26 every day. Frightening.
  • Over 8500 people will die of the illness each year.
  • The 5-year survival rate is 3%. This hasn’t improved in over 30 years and is the only cancer where survival rates have not improved.

We believe in being honest. Many charities are struggling to attract donations these days. People have other financial pressures and some funds are understandably diverted to appeals following harrowing events. We cannot deny we are also finding it tough but will continue to support the great research we have started for as long as we possibly can. The statistics above show that a lot more research needs to be done to combat pancreatic cancer. We’ve been at this now for 25 years and thankfully some exciting results are emerging, but there’s still a long way to go.
Have a good summer. After that hot spell earlier in the year we seem to have suffered with rain, chilly evenings and overcast skies. Never mind there’s nothing we can do about it! Many thanks for your support.

The Trustees. July 2017.

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