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Lockdown discoveries

Five exciting breakthroughs you’ve helped our scientists make during lockdown

Labs might have been on lockdown for months, but that doesn’t mean our scientists haven’t been busy. Many have used the opportunity to analyse results from experiments and publish their findings to help further our progress towards starting new cancer cures.

Here are five exciting breakthroughs our scientists have made over the last few months:

1. New evidence that some cells can help cancer hide from the immune system

Dr Cathy Tournier, based at the University of Manchester, recently discovered that tumours can attract and help grow a type of cell found in our body which helps the tumour hide from the immune system. Her team found that this was reliant on the cancer cells producing a special molecule that they say could be blocked with targeted drugs, allowing the immune system to recognise and kill off cancer cells.

2. Gene found to be a key player in helping breast cancer to spread around the body

Dr Sara Sigismund at the European Institute of Oncology in Italy has helped to discover that a gene called EPN3 plays a crucial role in helping breast cancer to grow and spread around the body to other organs. The researchers have worked out exactly how this gene works and suggest that EPN3 could be used as a new target for the design of new breast cancer drugs.

3. Helping cancer cells rediscover a lost molecule could flag them for attack from the immune system

Dr Angel Garcia-Lora at the Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Granada in Spain has found a way to light up cancer cells so they can be recognised and attacked by the immune system. By inserting a new gene into the cancer cells, they were able to activate the immune system and stop the growth of tumours. They hope that this could be the start of a new immunotherapy or cancer vaccine.

4. Cancer gene found to help lung cancers spread that could lead the way to new treatments

Professor Andrew Fry at the University of Leicester has found out exactly how a particular genetic mutation accelerates lung cancer spread in patients. His teams research has identified a new molecular mechanism in lung cancer that could now be used to help develop new ways to treat the disease.

5. Molecule on the surface of cancer cells could be blocked to prevent them spreading

Dr Elvira Olaso at the University of the Basque Country in Spain has discovered the important role played by a protein found coating the outside surface of cancer cells. Her research shows that by blocking this protein they can prevent cancer cells from going through some of the changes that are required to allow them to spread around the body, potentially starting the development of new treatments.

These bold discoveries could not have happened without you. It’s thanks to your generosity and kindness that scientists can continue finding new cures to save lives in the future. Please donate today to help start even more lifesaving research.