SCOTS scientists are set to receive a major cash injection from Cancer Research UK.
Today (Friday, February 4), on World Cancer Day, the charity is announcing that experts at the Cancer Research UK Scotland Centre will receive around £12 million over the next five years for their ground-breaking work, as part of the development of a unique chain of cutting-edge research hubs around the UK.
This World Cancer Day also marks Cancer Research UK's 20th anniversary.
The £12 million will be used to accelerate work into diagnosing and treating cancers which are among the most prevalent in Scotland, including bowel cancer, mesothelioma, liver cancer and brain tumours.
Professor Ian Tomlinson, Co-Director of the Cancer Research UK Scotland Centre, said: "We've had a challenging year and COVID-19 has slowed us down. But we will not stop working hard to find new treatments for cancer, and this investment will give us the tools we need to deliver high quality research which will make the biggest difference for patients.
"This investment means we will be able to further develop our work in translational research – getting cutting edge discoveries from the laboratory to patients and learning as much as possible from patients to initiate new research."
Professor Owen Sansom, Co-Director of the Cancer Research UK Scotland Centre, added:
"The new Cancer Research UK Scotland Centre will bring some of the best scientists in Scotland together to tackle some of the biggest cancer challenges that matter to people across Scotland.
"We will have a relentless focus on tackling cancers which affect our fellow citizens, drawing on expertise built up over many decades.
The Scotland Centre, comprising scientists from Edinburgh and Glasgow, has been chosen as one of just seven locations to secure funding in the latest review of the Cancer Research UK Centres network of excellence. These are world-class research centres which draw together leading research and medical expertise to drive the best possible results for cancer patients.
Every year, 33,200 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland*.
The multimillion-pound investment in the nation's cancer research is welcomed by bowel cancer survivor Iain Kerr, 66, from Helensburgh, who last year celebrated the arrival of his first grandchild.
Dad-of-two Iain was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January 2014 – just three months after moving home to Scotland from southwest England to retire with wife Wendy.
Then aged 58, the move meant Iain was eligible for Scotland's bowel cancer screening programme, which led to the discovery of a tumour in his lower bowel.
A keen hillwalker, Iain says when he left Vale of Leven Hospital in shock after hearing his diagnosis, he looked to Ben Lomond in the distance and thought, "Will we ever walk up there again?"
But following surgery to remove his tumour and a bowel resection – which was carried out using a surgical procedure never before performed in Scotland – Iain was told he wouldn't need any further treatment.
Welcoming Cancer Research UK's £12 million investment in the Cancer Research UK Scotland Centre, he said: "As far as I'm concerned, research and screening saved my life. The specialist surgery I had – a procedure that was carried out in Scotland for the first time – that's down to research.
"If I had been diagnosed with cancer twenty years ago, the outcome might not have been the same for me. I'm so grateful for the treatment that saved my life. I've been given the greatest gift of all – more precious moments with my loved ones, including meeting my beautiful granddaughter, Jasleen."
Iain continued: "I was lucky enough to avoid chemotherapy, but not everyone is as fortunate as I was. It's fantastic news that Cancer Research UK is investing £12 million in this new research centre in Scotland and bringing together the country's top experts from Edinburgh and Glasgow. I hope that this new funding and collaboration will lead to better, kinder treatments for people with bowel cancer, and other cancers impacting the lives of people across Scotland."
Dr Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cancer Research UK, said:
"This past year proves, more than any other, the value of investing in science and medical research, and what can be achieved with collective focus and collaboration. Just like science is our route out of the pandemic, science is our route to beating cancer.
"Despite the impact of the pandemic on the charity's income, we are funding some of the best and most promising research in Scotland to help more people survive.
"Survival rates have doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK's work has been at the heart of that progress. Every step our doctors, nurses and scientists take relies on every pound raised through fundraising, and they need your support now more than ever.
"Our determination to beat cancer hasn't faltered and we are even more focussed on our ambition of seeing 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034. One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetimes, and all of us can support the research that will beat it."
Marked on February 4, World Cancer Day is an international initiative, uniting people across the globe to take action against the disease.
For Cancer Research UK the awareness day takes on extra significance this year, as it celebrates its 20th birthday.
While the charity was formed in 2002, its history dates back to the founding of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1902. Its work has been at the heart of some of the biggest developments in cancer, from radiotherapy to some of the most used cancer drugs around the world today.
And now the cutting-edge research it funds has helped lead to more people than ever in the UK surviving their cancer for 10 years or more.
We also welcome the extended leadership team: Prof Gareth Inman - Chief Operating Officer (left), Dr Jackie Beesley - Centre Manager (middle), Prof Charlie Gourley - Clinical Lead (right)
Translation, a process during protein synthesis, could be a potential target for anti-tumour therapy in colorectal cancer (CRC), as suggested by John Knight and colleagues in their recent study – 'Rpl24Bst mutation suppresses colorectal cancer by promoting eEF2 phosphorylation via eEF2K'. They investigated an impairment of the protein production machinery, a mutation in the ribosomal subunit Rpl24, in a KRAS- and APC-driven model of CRC - not only did this reduce the overall rate of protein production within tumours, but it also affected tumour growth and development. When studying human tissue, the same signalling pathway, centred around the eEF2 component and its activation, was identified in tumour samples, and hence, its proposed role as a drug-relevant pathway.
Hing Leung, Arnaud Blomme and co-authors have linked the THEM6 protein to drug resistance in advanced prostate cancer ('THEM6-mediated lipid remodelling sustains stress resistance in cancer'). In their study, THEM6 affected the lipid composition of cancer cells, thus altering theirstress response, such as that induced by anti-cancer therapy. As the researchers also observed that THEM6 created a 'tumour stimulating' environment in other hormone-dependent cancers, they propose it as a new therapeutic target beyond just prostate cancer.
The structural complex K48-linked polyUb chain, which fits under the umbrella of ubiquitin (Ub) post-translational modifications, can act as a signal to target proteins for degradation. Using chemical biology approaches, scientists Mark Nakasone and Karolina Majorek described the structure of one of these complexes, consisting of a RING E3, the E2 UBE2K and a Ub acceptor, in Nature Chemical Biology. The study revealed the function – acceptor recognition, multiple Ub binding site or recruitment of Ub substrates- of individual complex components and their domains, and thus, explained the molecular basis of ubiquitin chain assembly, which up till now has remained elusive to the field.
Work by former Beatson PhD student Valentin Barthet and members of the Tumour Cell Death lab characterised two new, but functionally distinct, members of the DRAM protein family, a set of proteins involved in the cell's clean up and recycling function. Unlike other DRAM proteins, p53 did not activate DRAM-4 or DRAM-5, but they were stimulated when nutrient supply was scarce. Although found in distinct locations within the cell, the endosome and plasma, respectively, DRAM-4 and DRAM-5 had compensatory effects on autophagy and cell survival. While these proteins can found in breast cancer cells, further work is required to uncover their exact roles. [DRAM-4 and DRAM-5 are compensatory regulators of autophagy and cell survival in nutrient-deprived conditions in The FEBS Journal]
From April, Scotland will become one of seven Cancer Research UK Centres across the UK. The funding provided will help translate cutting-edge discoveries from laboratories in Edinburgh and Glasgow, including those at the Beatson, into direct benefits for cancer patients.
The joint Centre will have six tumour-specific research themes, based on cancer types that profoundly affect the Scottish population (bowel, liver and pancreas cancer, and mesothelioma) or in which there is a growing expertise in Scotland (brain and women's cancer). Underpinning this work will be state-of-the-art infrastructure, particularly in model systems, pathology and advanced imaging, that will ensure a translational pipeline from basic science to the clinic remains open and available to all.
Crucially, the Centre will also make best use of the Scottish clinical 'cancer environment' and data – both its provision and analysis – will be central to enabling the Centre to link real-world cancer patients and their information to research into the biology of disease progression and response, focused prevention and early detection initiatives, experimental medicine projects and preclinical studies.
Together, by maximising the value of its clinical and scientific resources, the CRUK Scotland Centre will benefit Scottish patients and CRUK's mission to prevent cancer and improve 10-year survival rates to 75% by 2034.
Follow link to CRUK website for more details: https://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2022/01/24/seven-centres-to-form-new-cancer-research-uk-network/
Great to hear about Prof Karen Blyth's experience of women in STEM as an editor for an Elsevier journal.
Six editorial team members of Gene, including Karen, were interviewed about the journal, their careers and the role of women in science: https://www.elsevier.com/life-sciences/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/journals/editor-spotlight-meet-the-women-behind-leading-genetics-journals
At the Beatson Institute, we are fortunate in being supported by some outstanding core services. These include our Histology Service, which is managed by Colin Nixon who was recently interviewed for a Spotlight in Science article. This feature provides a great opportunity to find out about Colin's career path to his current role and the exciting work his team is doing.
Beatson Director Owen Sansom and postdoctoral fellow Arafath Najumudeen have been featured in Cancer Grand Challenges' annual progress magazine, Discover – a celebration of the advances against cancer that can be made when diverse, global teams come together and think differently.
The duo form part of the Cancer Grand Challenges Rosetta team, supported since 2017 and developing a map of cancer metabolism akin to Google Earth – zooming from the whole tumour right down into the individual molecules inside cells.
Earlier this year, Arafath, Owen and the team used their tumour mapping tools to identify a novel therapeutic target for colorectal cancer. Their discovery highlights the power of the team's 3D tumour-mapping platform, which could transform our understanding of cancer and pioneer more effective treatments.
Learn more: read whole article here.
About Cancer Grand Challenges
Cancer Grand Challenges is a global funding platform founded in 2020 by the two largest funders of cancer research in the world: Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute in the US.
Through a series of £20m awards, we support world-class, multidisciplinary teams of scientists to come together, think differently and find bold new solutions to some of cancer's toughest challenges.
Find out more: www.cancergrandchallenges.org