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New research underway to cheer you up on ‘the most depressing day of the year’

The third Monday in January, namely today, Monday 18th January, is reported by many media outlets as the most depressing day of the year. This January is particularly depressing with the recent loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman to cancer, both only aged 69. However, the reason today in particular is supposedly the most depressing day is apparently due to the bad weather, dark days and us realising how much we all spent and ate at Christmas. But we have exciting research news to change all that!

Is today really the most depressing day of the year?

The actual scientific reasoning behind why today of all days is meant to be the most depressing day is not all that sound, close to nonsense really. Personally I found my first day back at work after the festive break the most depressing. Dashing through rainstorms trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid ankle high puddles in what seemed like eternal darkness. Unceremoniously removing leftover chocolates and selection boxes from the house, taking down Christmas decorations and dusting off the laptop to start it up again. Today I actually feel quite cheery by comparison, but I must admit 2016 does seem to be particularly uninspiring so far with all of the rain and flooding….. or is it?

New year, new research

January is an exciting time here at Worldwide Cancer Research as our latest batch of research projects began - hoorah! Back in October we held our bi-annual grant meeting and awarded 23 grants costing in the region of £4.5 million. Right up until we closed the office doors for Christmas we were receiving the signed contracts sent back with the i’s dotted, t’s crossed. Now they are in we can share details of the latest Worldwide Cancer Research grant holders and how they are taking on cancer.

We support research into all cancer types and this round was no exception. The projects contain a good mix of cancer types from mouth and lip to breast, lung, pancreatic, lymphoma and liver cancer to name but a few. And of course a large amount is being spent on understanding the very fundamental principles behind how our cells behave and what goes wrong in cancer. Keeping with our ethos of supporting the best research around the globe, the projects are taking place all over the world including England, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Australia, The Netherlands, France, Germany, USA and Canada.

Opening up about mouth cancer

Some of the projects that most excite me are Dr Guy Lyons from the University of Sydney, Australia. He is identifying genetic changes that occur when mouth cancer starts so that it can be diagnosed early, when treatment is more likely to be successful. You can read more about mouth cancer in our recent blog. Dr Lyons told us “The support of organisations such as Worldwide Cancer Research for research into the fundamental biology of cancer is essential for the discovery of new paradigms that enable new approaches in the clinic down the track.”

Developing new ‘super cameras’

Professor Carolyn Moores at Birkbeck University of London in England is developing state of the art electron microscopy to actually visualise where drugs bind (stick) to their target molecules inside the cancer cells. This is VERY cool.  She said “Revolutionary new imaging technology means that our pictures will provide unprecedented detail, from which we will calculate the three-dimensional shape of our samples. This technique could potentially revolutionise the way drug discovery is carried out and our findings could be used to design specific drugs that can be further developed to improve treatments for cancers in the future. It is an exciting time to be an electron microscopist and we are thrilled that Worldwide Cancer Research is supporting our research in this area.”

Studying ‘bubbles’ to beating childhood brain cancer

We are also funding Dr Kasper Rouschop at Maastricht University in The Netherlands (pictured above) who is studying how ‘bubbles’ released by glioblastoma tumours encourage blood vessels to grow into the tumour. Glioblastoma’s are a type of brain tumour that commonly effects.  He told us “We anticipate that the results of this research will enable us to evaluate whether targeting these particular bubbles could be a potential new way to reduce the growth of brain tumours.  Our approach is highly innovative and is based on our previous identification of “bubbles” that are specifically released by hypoxic tumour cells. Without the support of Worldwide Cancer Research, evaluation of this promising approach would not be possible.”

And last, but by no means marking the end of my list of fab new projects, is Dr Ruben van Boxtel at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands. He is trying to figure out why cancer arises in some parts of the body more than others. Great question to try to answer!

The weather may be miserable and we may all be a few pounds lighter in the pocket and heavier on the scales but we are very excited by these new approaches to beating cancer and rebel against today being the most depressing day of the year!

Donating to charity makes people feel good, if you would like to join team Worldwide Cancer Research and make a donation text WORLDWIDE to 70004 to donate £10.

Further information

You can read more about all of the current projects we have going on 24/7 around the world by using our interactive worldmap.

Image kindly provided by Dr Kasper Rouchop.

Science Communication Manager at Worldwide Cancer Research

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