Professor Raj Chopra, Head of Cancer Therapeutics, thanked ICR supporters and spoke about his hopes for the future for cancer treatment – made possible by their support.
He told those gathered at the Discovery Club event, held last month at the Royal Society of Chemistry:
“In the last few decades, we have made enormous strides in our treatment of cancer – so much so that over 50% of patients can be cured.
“That however leaves a group of patients who still represent disease that requires improved therapies and more importantly, innovative therapies.”
He also emphasised the importance that our supporters and patients have in shaping our success.
“It is very important we come to the Discovery Club to explain the science, not only to our supporters who raise money for us, but also to patients who willingly take part in clinical trials – because without them we would not be able to achieve what we have done so far.”
The Discovery Club provides its members with personal access to the science behind our discoveries. Through special events and updates, it is an opportunity to speak directly with the people who are working towards better outcomes for cancer patients and learn more about our research.
Cancers of unmet need
As Head of Cancer Therapeutics, Professor Chopra leads teams of chemists, biologists and clinicians who specialise in the treatment of cancer and are focussed on finding new targets for treatment for patients with high unmet need – where effective treatments are not yet available.
During the reception, he highlighted three types of hard-to-treat ‘stealth cancers’ where new treatments are urgently needed: ovarian cancer, brain cancer and pancreatic cancer.
These cancers may have unspecific symptoms that make it difficult for doctors to spot earlier, making treatment more difficult.
He also set out how research in the field of immunotherapy – where therapies tap into the body's own immune system as a weapon against cancer – has the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment.
Our amazing supporters
The event also highlighted some recent phenomenal fundraising efforts to support our research.
Bowel cancer patient and fundraiser Tim Morgan presented a cheque for £273,000 to support our bowel cancer research after completing the gruelling 'Dartmoor Demon' cycle ride with his team.
The money raised by Tim is already helping Dr Marco Gerlinger, Team Leader in our Centre for Evolution and Cancer, to understand drug resistance in advanced bowel cancer, to improve outcomes for patients with the disease.
There was also an official thank you for Lynn Lucas, joint founder of the Chris Lucas Trust, who has worked tirelessly with her husband Lynn to support our research into rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare childhood cancer which took their son Chris in 2000/ The Trust has raised over £1 million for research at the ICR through flagship events such as the Great North Bike Ride.
Their support has helped Professor Janet Shipley's lab develop a genetic test to better classify rhabdomyosarcoma patients into low and high risk groups that decide treatment intensity.
The ICR’s Chief Executive Professor Paul Workman added his thanks to all of those who support our work.
He said: “At the ICR, discovering and developing treatments that will outsmart and benefit cancer patients is at the heart of everything we do. We are working to develop new drugs including those that target especially challenging and novel targets – drugs which we hope will improve the survival rates of cancers that remain hard to treat.”
The Discovery Club is our high-level giving club whose members help us to drive forward our scientific strategy through philanthropic investment in key organisational priorities.
If you would like to find out more about membership, please contact Hannah Joyce, Deputy Director of Philanthropy.