Leading Cancer Charity Announces £2million worth of research funding

The North West’s leading charity in cancer research has announced that it will provide additional funding worth around £1.1million to support vital cancer research projects in the North West, taking the total amount of funding provided by the charity this year over the £2million mark.

Liverpool-based North West Cancer Research (NWCR) Incorporating Clatterbridge Cancer Research has announced that seven new research projects have now been awarded funding, totalling £1,090,735 at the University of Liverpool and the University of Bangor.

The projects cover research in the three main areas of basic, translational and preventative science and will help to increase our understanding of how we can detect, treat and prevent cancers. NWCR received 23 submissions for this latest round of bi-annual funding. These were then extensively considered and peer reviewed by a specially selected scientific committee, comprising of leading professors, award-winning scientists and pioneering professionals.

Professor Nigel Cunliffe from the University of Liverpool was welcomed as head of the scientific committee for the first time this year, overseeing the individual submissions and the decision process.

In February this year NWCR announced funding totally around £900,000 for research projects which are now underway, including the first ever clinical trial to be funded by the charity which will investigate chemotherapy treatment prior to surgery for patients with locally advanced bile duct cancer.

NWCR has recently formed a new alliance with the University of Liverpool and will move its headquarters to the iconic former Roy Castle Centre on the city’s London Road shortly – a move which will bring the aims of the charity closer to world-class research scientists.

Michael Potts, Chairman of NWCR, said: “The standard of grant submissions this year was exceptionally high and our scientific committee faced a serious challenge in selecting the strongest applications.

“With the North West having some of the highest incidences of cancer in the whole country, it is absolutely critical that we continue to fund innovative and effective ways to deal with the problem.

“Last year we made a £1.5million commitment to projects across the North West and I am delighted to see that this commitment has now increased to over £2million – a commitment we hope to build upon over the coming years.

“NWCR prides itself on only backing the very highest standard of research, ensuring the best value for the support we provide.”

The funded projects will include a focus on downstream elements of Ras proteins in cancers, the role of the DNA damage and repair mechanisms in cancer cells to help identify new treatment strategies and why some protein markers found in breast cancer promote immortality in the cancer cell and how this can be overcome.

The reason why some patients respond better to chemotherapy treatments than others will also be explored, as well as drug treatments to prevent the growth and movement of cancer cells in oesophageal cancer – a devastating disease which offers a poor prognosis and accounts for 500,000 deaths a year worldwide.

Finally a project will also use new digital technology available in only a few places in the UK to evaluate how sensitivity and drug-resistance are related in cancer cells, helping not only to understand how anti-cancer drugs might save lives, but why they stop working over a period time.

Dr Ian Prior from the University of Liverpool, whose research team has been funded by NWCR following this latest round of funding, along with his research colleague Dr Tobias Zech, said: “Long-term funding of my research by NWCR has been very important in retaining expert staff and given me the ability to plan and carry such an ambitious project.

“The funding will help support established labs with international reputations, as well as recognising the potential of new groups right here at the University of Liverpool, such as that lead by Dr Tobias Zech. It will help him to facilitate an investigation into how cancer cells prepare themselves to invade neighbouring tissues, which assist in the development of anti-cancer therapies.”

Dr Prior’s research will investigate the cancer causing communication systems within cells and an international team of scientists from Boston and Berlin are aiding the research programme which will be carried out in Liverpool.

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