The RH20s fundraisers from Pulborough have been given a rare behind-the-scenes look at the work of cancer scientists at the University of Sussex.
Lorraine Dale and her son Martin joined a tour of the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Martin joined Centre to see how the Cancer Research UK-funded scientists are trying find better, more effective and kinder treatments for the many variations of the disease.
Every year 42,400 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the South East.
When supporters like Lorraine and Martin sign up for a monthly donation to the charity, organise a fundraising event, or take part in Race for Life, this is where some of their money goes. Last year Cancer Research UK spent more than £1m on laboratory and clinical research in Brighton alone.
Local money raised by local people is funnelled into research on their doorstep via a scheme called ‘My Projects’ which aims to raise £100,000 to fund the work carried out at the University of Sussex. More than £22,000 has already been donated.
Scientists at the Genome Centre investigate how cells respond when their DNA is damaged and how this can lead to cancer and other diseases. And they look at how DNA damage can be utilised and exploited in killing cancer cells.
Mark O’Driscoll, Professor of Human Molecular Genetics at the Genome centre, said: “What we are trying to do is find the Achilles heel of cancer, without killing the person being treated. It is about providing more personal medicine and a more targeted approach.”
Developing effective drugs is time-consuming – it can take 20 years from bench to bedside. That process, in Professor O’Driscoll’s words, is “horrifically expensive”.
That’s where the fundraising comes in. CRUK gets no Government funding so it has to come from the public.
Professor O’Driscoll said: “Ours is important work that helps save lives. Quite simply, without the money raise by CRUK supporters, my lab would not exist.”
Lorraine and Martin said: “It was a fascinating and enlightening visit to the Genome centre. It brought home just how much research goes into developing the very sophisticated drugs we now have. And of course, it highlighted how much more still needs to be done to make even better drugs and save more lives in the future.”
To find out more about My Projects visit: www.cruk.org/myprojectsbrighton
Lorraine Dale and her son Martin are pictured here with Professor Mark O’Driscoll.
Report and picture contributed by Cancer Research UK.