Cervical cancer is the fourth most common female cancer worldwide and the most common cancer for women ages 15-34, with around half a million new cases and a quarter of a million deaths per year. The five year survival rate of this population is just 64%, and 50% of patients experience a relapse after radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Currently, there is no effective treatment for these women.
When Debbie Philips, successful lawyer, mother of three and a warm and kind friend died in 2010, her family and friends could find no current research into the disease so they decided to fund research into the disease that was led by Professor Kerry Chester, an antibody specialist at UCL.
Seven years after the fund was set up, the team have developed antibodies that can recognise and therefore target cancer. Professor Chester explains that the antibodies are then loaded with highly potent drugs using novel chemistry. “This will ensure stability during circulation within the body and timely release of the drug in the tumour cells."
Debbie Fund’s genomics research has revealed how different patterns of modification to DNA in cervical cancers may be used to predict the prognosis for the patient. In the past year, the team have profiled the patterns of DNA modification in 100 patients with cervical cancer, analysing differences from healthy cells. This is the first such study of this size and it is guiding research towards ways to identify particularly aggressive tumours from those that respond well to treatment. This could help doctors to better tailor treatment to individual patients based on the molecular profile of their tumour.
Donations to Debbie Fund will further this research and bring it into the clinical trial stage.
Watch the YouTube clip below for more detail: