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Help us kick-start our vital research

Our research has been on hold during the coronavirus crisis, but cancer has not. We need your support today to help us make up for lost time in defeating cancer.

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Mother of two, Sally, is living with stage 4 melanoma. She explains why support to kick-start our research is so vital. 

The coronavirus crisis is presenting huge challenges for us all – and we have lost vital time in our research to defeat cancer.

Please donate today to help us make up for lost research hours and to accelerate our research as we return to our laboratories. 

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Cancer is not self-isolating

Our laboratories had to remain closed during the coronavirus lockdown to ensure the safety of our staff. It was devastating for our scientists to step away from the lab bench, and pause our research.

Thankfully some of our scientists have been continuing their computational, data-driven research from home. Other colleagues have applied their scientific skills to join the enormous global push to understand and combat the coronavirus. And our clinical researchers have been working hard on the front-line of the NHS.

But cancer has not been self-isolating during this period. Many cancer patients are more vulnerable than ever at times like these – so the need to understand cancer better and design smarter, kinder and more effective treatments has become even more urgent.

Kick-starting our research

We are now returning to our laboratories, where it is safe to do so. We know that cancer patients around the world are counting on us to deliver new treatments. In the coming months we will resume our laboratory-based research with even greater resolve and dedication to making life-saving discoveries.

We now face declining income as research funding is cut and major fundraising events are cancelled. This is why your support is so important, to help us get our laboratories up-and-running again. 

This pandemic has been a setback for cancer research, but with your help, it won’t mean long-term damage in our progress to defeat this disease.

How your donation could help

As we start to return to our laboratories, we need your support to kick-start our life-changing work and help us make up for lost research hours. Here are some examples of areas where your donation could make a big difference to our work.

Advancing our understanding of childhood cancer

Your support will help us continue our strong track record of research into cancers affecting children.

All of our research programmes are led by world experts in their field. To expand this pool of talent and our capacity to research childhood cancers, we recently recruited a talented team leader, Dr Alejandra Bruna. Dr Bruna will lead our efforts to develop new cancer models derived from patient’s tumours, to better understand how solid childhood tumours respond to treatment.

Dr Bruna’s research aims to improve our understanding of the biology of aggressive paediatric cancers. She will study how different cells from the same tumour can vary so much, and the role of evolution in the development of resistance to treatment. We hope that this understanding will help us to design smarter treatment plans to overcome or prevent drug resistance and relapse in young patients.

Accelerating the discovery of new drugs

Your support will help us buy cutting-edge protein crystallisation equipment. This will help us see cancer proteins at the smallest detail, to finely map their shapes and see how well potential cancer drugs might lock onto them. We first make crystals of the proteins, then we bombard them with X-rays to work out the fine internal structure of the protein.

This highly intricate work is currently time-consuming and laborious. To make this work quicker and more efficient, Dr Rob van Montfort is setting up a state-of-the-art protein crystallisation laboratory within our new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery.

To help us discover new cancer drugs more quickly, his team needs equipment that automates the production of protein crystals using high throughput and cutting-edge robotic technology. This new suite will increase the efficiency of the team and enable faster delivery of key X-ray crystallography data.

Training future cancer leaders

Your support will help us train our new cohort of pre-doctoral (PhD) students. Supervised by leading ICR experts, our PhD students embark upon research projects that lead to real advances in our knowledge and understanding of cancer. Many scientists who have trained here are now in leading international roles in cancer research.

Student Iona Black is in the second year of her PhD and is using a variety of specialist techniques to design chemical probes that could stop the activities of Tankyrase, a protein involved in cancer cell growth. Iona’s work could provide early crucial clues towards the design of new cancer drugs.

Investing in the most ambitious, creative and innovative students benefits not only us, but also the international cancer research community and, ultimately, cancer patients. But the pandemic has put funding for our PhD students at risk. This could mean that the careers of some of our most talented young scientists are stalled and others may not reach their potential.

“My treatment has given me a new lease of life, and now every day is precious. That’s why we need to support the ICR today, so they can get their life-changing research up-and-running again, to help more people to live a good life with cancer.” Hear Rob’s story.

By the time Rob Lester, a former GP, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer aged 55, it had spread to his bones. Rob hoped he’d survive five years – but thanks to abiraterone, a drug we discovered and developed, he’s been living well with cancer for over seven years.

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