OUR WORK – DEVELOPING CURES
Action Against Cancer funds the development of cures for cancer at Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, led by world-renowned oncologist, Professor Justin Stebbing.
The groundbreaking programmes that we fund focus on developing new diagnostics and treatments to improve the survival prospects and quality of life for millions of cancer sufferers worldwide.
Developing a new drug - A totally new approach to therapy
Professor Stebbing's team recently gained international acclaim after discovering the cancer causing gene 'LMTK3'. The team have found that this gene promotes resistance to treatment for breast, colon, gastric and brain cancer sufferers . Action Against Cancer is supporting the development of a revolutionary new drug to inhibit this gene. The drug could provide hope to millions of cancer sufferers worldwide. Click here to read on about this programme.
Understanding the Cancer Brain
Cancer cells can be thought of as having a 'brain'. Whilst we can hold certain, physically identifiable, sections of the human brain responsible for particular behaviour types, the cancer brain is more complex. Rather than manifesting itself as a single mass, the cancer brain is better thought of as a labyrinth of pathways in which an intricate set of chemical reactions between different proteins takes place.
Action Against Cancer is funding a huge experiment aimed at gaining a comprehensive understanding of the cancer brain, to learn exactly what takes place during the onset and growth of cancer – one protein at a time. This will be pioneering research that generations of scientists will refer to, a true legacy experiment that will pave the way for the design of drugs, targeting those proteins that are found to play the most important role in the progression of cancer. Click here to read on about this programme.
Targeting the Guardian of the Genome
The protein 'p53' was first discovered in 1979 and has earned the name 'the guardian of the genome' due to its crucial role in controlling the growth of cells and, more importantly, preventing the growth and spread of abnormal or cancerous cells and causing them to die. A number of changes must occur within a normal cell for it to become cancerous, but it is widely believed that the development of abnormal p53, or loss of its production, is the single most important step in this process. Despite p53's importance, no one has 'cracked' how to target it therapeutically. Action Against Cancer is funding a groundbreaking programme designed to achieve this goal. Because p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in so many cancers, targeting it is almost certain to have applicability in most tumour types. Click here to read on about this programme.
Metastasis (the development of secondary cancer) – understanding its causes and developing new diagnostics and treatments
Action Against Cancer is currently funding a number of PhD Studentships and Fellowships at Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital focussed on studying what causes primary breast, lung, colon, prostate or pancreatic cells to move to other parts of the body. This secondary form of cancer is called metastasis and is much more difficult to treat than primary cancer. Ultimately, it is expected that the increased understanding of metastasis will assist cancer specialists:
i. to better predict the likelihood of cancerous cells metastasising (spreading) in each patient
ii. to tailor the testing for patients with a high likelihood of their cancer metastasising so as to improve the likelihood of early diagnosis
iii. to improve the therapeutic strategies for these patients once a propensity for metastasis of their cancer has been identified, thus greatly increasing their chances of survival