oesophageal cancer research discovery funding

Working together to find new cures for oesophageal cancer

28th February 2023

This Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month we are delighted to announce a brand new project here in the UK, which is looking to find new ways to prevent this devastating disease. Together with Guts-UK we are supporting Dr Maria Alcolea at the University of Cambridge to carry out pioneering research about how oesophageal cancer emerges.

Oesophageal cancer is the 8th most common cancer worldwide

It is also the 6th most common cause of cancer death around the world. It is a cancer of unmet need, with poor survival rates and limited treatment options, partly because it is difficult to diagnose early on. Discovery research is vital to better understand oesophageal cancer and look for new cures.

An innovative idea

For a while now scientists have understood that cancer cells grow because of mutations accumulating in our DNA. Recently Dr Maria Alcolea and her team in Cambridge had an exciting new idea that it might not be the mutations themselves that cause cancer, but actually interactions between the mutations.

Dr Maria Alcolea and her team now plan to use a multidisciplinary approach, including the use of new 3D cell culture models, to investigate how different mutations together form an environment that supports tumour development. They hope to shed light on new ways to prevent and treat oesophageal cancer by understanding what is happening at a cellular level in the early stages of cancer growth. 

Photo shows Dr Maria Alcolea (front, centre) and her team
Dr Maria Alcolea, Cancer Researcher
Most advances that are made in the clinic originally come from basic scientific observations. If we do not invest in those, we are jeopardising the basic foundations that nurture medical progress. It is essential to support discovery research, or everything would collapse.

Hope for the future

This exciting new research means a lot to Natalie, whose husband Ben tragically died from oesophageal cancer. When we told her about about it, Natalie said, “Oesophageal cancer can be such an aggressive cancer with bad odds, yet receives little research and funding unlike other cancers which actually have good survival rates.

Ben was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer on December 21st 2017, 4 days before Christmas. He died just 3 years later on Jan 6th 2021, when our son Thomas was 11 years old. 

 I’m in touch with other families who have been through or are going through what we went through with Ben. This research could help them and others. It makes me feel more positive that with more research like this, in the future, the survival rate may increase. We hope less and less families will have to go through all that Ben and those around him did, with few treatment options available to them.”

Photo shows Ben with wife Natalie and son Thomas

Working together to find more cures faster

Thanks to donations from our amazing Curestarters, Dr Maria Alcolea’s project is one of 30 new ideas we are able to fund in 2023.

We are delighted to be partnering with Guts-UK to support Dr Alcolea’s project, to make your donations go even further. Together we have awarded Dr Alcolea £248,286 for this project, which will run from March 2023 to February 2025. 

Guts-UK is committed to fighting all digestive disorders and funds research into the digestive system from top to tail; the gut, liver and pancreas. Together, we want to provide hope to patients and their families that in the future there will be more ways to prevent the suffering caused by oesophageal cancer.

Dr Lynn Turner, Director of Research
I am thrilled that Worldwide Cancer Research and Guts-UK have come together to support this vital research. In 2020, around 8,500 people sadly died from oesphageal cancer in the UK. Working in partnership means that we can support more cutting-edge ideas with the potential to find new cures.

Donate today to fund more lifesaving research


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