From left to right: Cari Grice, IoD Regional Events Manager, Professor Graham Pockley, Director at JvG Cancer Research, Amy Longstaff, Regular Giving Coordinator at Nottingham Trent University, Joe Fitzsimons, IoD Student Membership Manager
After an enlightening tour of the lab the IoD team sat down with Professor Graham Pockley to discuss the impact their research has and how fundraising events can help.
To our laymen eyes the equipment in the JvG Research lab seems incredibly futuristic. For example, microscopes that can zoom in on samples so that single cancer cells can be identified, and machines that can process thousands of samples of DNA at a time. This equipment is essential in processing samples and procuring data that leads to breakthroughs for the team. The costs that go into this kind of research can be staggering. Some of the pieces of equipment can cost over £100,000. Not to mention the cost of researcher’s time and the running of the purpose-built research facility, which is covered by Nottingham Trent University. This means that 100% of every donation made to the Centre goes directly towards life-changing research.
At times it can be daunting to think of trying to fundraise an amount that would significantly contribute to the work done at the Centre. However, after sitting down with Professor Graham Pockley, we learned that smaller donations can be essential in kickstarting the process. Projects won’t receive large amounts of funding until they can prove that this funding won’t be in vain, which means that the support of organisations and events such as the IoD Challenge is vital in order for the Centre to have the tools and equipment needed to carry out the crucial first stages of a research project.
For example, the Centre has analysed cancer cells in order to develop anti-cancer vaccines, using the body’s own immune system. Access to cancer cells can be costly, and the specialist equipment used to analyse the cells would not have been available without the support of fundraisers.
The Centre has also developed a blood test which can identify the presence of prostate cancer, removing the need for painful biopsies. Often those with low-grade disease, who may never have symptoms and do not require active treatment, become ‘labelled’ as having cancer. This can have adverse psychological and financial consequences and assign these men to unnecessary life-long surveillance. As well as being able to discount cancer altogether, the blood test developed alongside University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust, has the potential to spare men with no cancer, or low-risk cancer, from having to undergo biopsies and other diagnostic procedures and tests. This would also mean significant savings for the health service. Now that the results of the research have proved so promising, the Centre is looking for further funding. Again, the initial work on this project would not have been possible without the vital funds raised for The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre.
The JvG Research centre has also made significant advancements in both breast and prostate cancer. The advancement that really struck me was a test that is able to tell a doctor whether a patient would respond to chemotherapy. This is so important. Chemotherapy can be a miserable process to go through and to be able to improve patient care this way is extraordinary, meaning patients don’t have to suffer unnecessarily only for the treatment to prove ineffective. If they have a limited time left, patients can spend this time without suffering the effects of chemotherapy treatment.
If you are looking to give back to your community through donating your time, please consider becoming a Mentor for the £10 Challenge this year.