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How our research saves lives

The research you help us fund has led to some incredible advances in how we prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Since 1979, we have invested £200 million in 2,000 research projects in 35 countries around the world.

Thanks to research, cancer survival rates have doubled in the UK since the 1970s. One in two people diagnosed with cancer can now expect to survive for 10 years or more after their diagnosis. But we are nowhere near done. In 2020, it was estimated that around the world 19.3 million people were diagnosed and 9.9 million people died from cancer.

Discover how our past research is helping to save lives right now and how our current research is providing hope for the future.

Clinical trials to stop bowel cancer coming back

Scientist: Professor Awen Gallimore

Impact: Started two bowel cancer clinical trials testing a new treatment approach that aims to destroy cancer cells that are left behind after surgery.

How you helped: Your support allowed us to fund Professor Gallimore to study the mechanisms that help cancer cells hide from the immune system. Her findings were key to setting up two clinical trials, which could lead to new life-saving treatments for people with bowel cancer.

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Brand new type of drug enters clinical trials

Scientist: Dr Laura Soucek

Impact: Developed a brand new cancer drug which in 2021 began being tested in patients on clinical trials. The drug, called omomyc, has the potential to treat a wide range of cancers.

How you helped: Your support allowed us to fund Dr Soucek in 2013 to test omomyc in the lab as a cancer treatment. This research was key to getting omomyc approved for clinical trials where it is being used to treat people with cancer.

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In 2020, it was estimated that around the world 19.3 million people were diagnosed and 9.9 million people died from cancer.

Olaparib has already helped 30,000 people

Scientist: Professor Steve Jackson

Impact: Discovered and developed a drug called olaparib - the first approved drug known as a PARP inhibitor. Olaparib is approved around the world for treating certain types of ovarian and breast cancer. Clinical trials are ongoing to test olaparib in many other cancer types.

How you helped: Your support allowed us to fund Professor Jackson throughout the 1990s to understand the fundamental biology of how cells repair damage to DNA. Through this research, Professor Jackson uncovered a new mechanism which was the basis for developing olaparib.

 

 

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More ways we are are helping people with cancer

Finding a new use for a diabetes drug

  • Scientist: Professor Dario Alessi
  • Impact: Discovered that the diabetes drug metformin could be used to prevent and treat cancer. This research has sparked over 100 clinical trials worldwide to test metformin against cancer.

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New life-saving immunotherapy

  • Scientist: Dr John Maher
  • Impact: Developed a brand new type of immunotherapy. John's unique CAR T-cell therapy is currently in clinical trials for head and neck cancer where it is already saving lives.

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Building mini-tumours in the lab

  • Scientist: Professor Hans Clevers
  • Impact: Developed a technique that scientists are now using to grow miniature tumours in the lab from a patient’s own cancer cells, opening the door to personalised medicine.

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Diagnosing rare genetic diseases

Scientist: Professor Kevin Hiom

Impact: Discovered a gene which is now used to help accurately diagnose a rare genetic disease called Fanconi anemia - a disease that is linked to a number of developmental disabilities, as well as an increased likelihood of developing cancer

How you helped: Your support allowed us to fund Professor Hiom in 2004 to understand more about a fundamental process that keeps us healthy – DNA repair. Through this research, Professor Hiom discovered a new gene which was then found to be a genetic marker for Fanconi anemia. 

 

 

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Making an impact

Researcher Stephen Bown

Pioneering laser therapy

  • Scientist: Professor Stephen Bown
  • Impact: Propelled a laser therapy called photodynamic therapy from the lab into the clinic. Photodynamic therapy is now available as a treatment option for patients with some types of cancer.

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Developing new blood cancer drugs

  • Scientist: Professor Mark Cragg
  • Impact: Contributed to the journey of a targeted cancer drug, which is now available as a treatment option for people with blood cancer.

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Collage of Worldwide Cancer Research researchers

Starting new cancer cures

We are currently funding innovative ideas in labs across the world - ideas that are helping to start new cancer cures.

See the projects we are funding

Thanks to research, cancer survival rates in the UK have doubled since the 1970s. One in two people diagnosed with cancer can now expect to survive for 10 years or more after their diagnosis. 

Donate today to help our researchers start new cancer cures