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Charity supports north-east cancer research with £97k donation

By Kyle Ritchie

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North-east charity Friends of ANCHOR has pledged just over £97,000 towards pioneering cancer research.

Friends of ANCHOR will fund seven new studies that will be undertaken this year at the University of Aberdeen, at a total cost of £97,475.

The organisation is encouraging people to sign up to its Going the Distance event, Rally for Research, which will see fundraising ring-fenced to directly support the charity’s research commitment.

Rally for Research is the third instalment of Friends of ANCHOR’s Going the Distance campaign. It is the organisation’s most ambitious virtual event since the pandemic began, with a goal of covering 72,000 miles; 1000 miles for every research project the charity has funded to date.

Friends of ANCHOR has donated just over £97,000 to cancer reaserch projects in the north-east.
Friends of ANCHOR has donated just over £97,000 to cancer reaserch projects in the north-east.

Charity director Sarah-Jane Hogg said: “We’ve invested in pilot research projects since 2010 and as we head into a second decade of this commitment, we’d love for people to get behind the cause and rally for research.

"The past year has seen all non-Covid research grind to a halt, so we’re pleased to be part of the research revival here in north-east Scotland.

“Our latest round of funding includes exciting work in the field of leukaemia and lymphoma, lung, breast and oral cancers, as well as a study into the treatment of neutropenic sepsis, which patients receiving chemotherapy are more susceptible to.

“By taking part in Rally for Research, there’s a chance to directly fund active research happening right here in our region, which could lead to breakthroughs in how these cancers are diagnosed and treated.”

Professor Valerie Speirs, chairwoman in molecular oncology for the University of Aberdeen’s oncology research team, is lead researcher for a study into breast cancer, which the charity will fund.

She said: “Friends of ANCHOR’s research funding plays a critical role in cancer research, allowing scientists to build a compelling case for substantial backing from major funding bodies. Studies like these form the building blocks of future changes in diagnosis and treatment.

Professor Valerie Speirs.
Professor Valerie Speirs.

“My own funded research will focus on cells within the tumour microenvironment in primary and secondary breast cancer patients. The aim is to identify cells which may prevent immunotherapy from working properly in the most common type of breast cancer.

“This study will lay the essential foundations for future research to improve patients’ responses to therapy and to control cancer progression.”

Having taken part in Friends of ANCHOR’s first Going the Distance event in June last year, Professor Spiers knows well the benefits it brings.

She added: “On a personal level, taking part gave me more motivation to get up and out there and I enjoyed the challenge.

“While all non-Covid research was suspended last year, Friends of ANCHOR actually redirected some of its funding into Covid-19 studies, taking direct steps to improve our understanding of how the disease works – and that’s alongside continued efforts to keep actively supporting patients throughout the pandemic.

“To know this year’s research will be funded by the personal efforts of all those who take part is a wonderful thing. Thank you in advance to all those who sign up.”

Kicking off on Monday, March 1, Going the Distance is an open invitation to people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels. Anyone can take part, by walking, running, cycling, skating, swimming, rowing or even scooting.

People have been encouraged to get involved with the charity's Going the Distance: Rally for Research challenge.
People have been encouraged to get involved with the charity's Going the Distance: Rally for Research challenge.

Ms Hogg added: “With our income plummeting in 2020, Going the Distance was a lifeline for the charity when it launched last June. To date the two month-long events have raised £63,800 which has funded direct support including patient transport and accommodation, comfort packs for inpatients, virtual support services, and practical support for ANCHOR staff too.

“Our 2021 challenge is our most ambitious yet and we’ll need lots of support to reach our goal. Geography is no limit and you can take part from the comfort of your own garden – or even the stairs in your house.

"As we continue through yet another lockdown, we hope people will feel inspired to sign up and become part of the buzzing online community that accompanies the challenge.”

The charity is suggesting a donation of £10 per person or £20 per household to get involved, with £5 as the suggested donation for any NHS staff. Corporate and schools packages are also available.

Participants will be given a mileage calendar to track their progress and will have access to a dedicated online community.

To sign up visit friendsofanchor.org/index.php/events/going-the-distance

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