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Newcastle Researcher calls for City to Unite and Stand up to Cancer


Oct 9, 2016

A CANCER researcher in Newcastle, who is leading the way with a ground breaking clinical trial to find the best dose of aspirin to prevent cancer in people with a genetic fault, is calling on his home city to back this year’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign.

Newcastle University Professor Sir John Burn from the Institute of Genetic Medicine knows only too well the importance of the campaign as it helps fund the Cancer Prevention Project 3 (CaPP3) trial.

The trial, which is part funded by Stand Up To Cancer a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, is building on his previous CaPP2 clinical trial which showed that aspirin can help reduce the risk of people with Lynch syndrome developing cancer.

Lynch syndrome is a condition that runs in some families. It is caused by faults in one or more genes that usually detect and repair mistakes in DNA. Lynch syndrome increases a person’s risk of developing a range of cancers, particularly bowel cancer.

The trial is comparing three different doses of aspirin to work out which causes the fewest side effects like ulcers and intestinal bleeding while still reducing the risk of people with Lynch syndrome developing cancer.

The first recruit to the trial is now two years in and has just completed the blind phase, where he didn’t know what quantity of aspirin he was testing.

Nick James, 37, from Gosforth is now one of 850 people on the trial across the country.

The furniture designer decided to undergo genetic testing after his mum died from womb cancer, and the diagnosis of other family members with bowel cancer – two of the cancer types people with Lynch syndrome are at a higher risk of developing.  The results showed he carried a faulty gene that causes Lynch syndrome.

After meeting the participant criteria and hearing from Professor Burn about the results of the CaPP2 trial, which showed aspirin can help reduce the risk of people with Lynch syndrome developing cancer, Nick was keen to take part.

The father-of-two said: “Finding out I had a faulty gene that causes Lynch syndrome was extremely daunting, but taking part in this trial has given me hope that there is something that can reduce the chances of me developing cancer.

“I know one of the potential problems with aspirin is the side effects it can cause. But fortunately everything has been fine and apart from a bit more bleeding if I cut myself I haven’t had any side effects.”

While Nick has been able to continue life as normal while taking part in the trial, the knowledge that he has Lynch syndrome continues to loom in the background.

He said: “While I won’t know until they are tested if my children have a faulty gene that causes Lynch syndrome, it does impact upon life and is always in the back of my mind.”

Nick will continue to take a set amount of aspirin for the next five years and afterwards will be monitored to see if he develops cancer.

He said: “Before joining CaPP3 I had never really thought about clinical trials before. But now, I am aware of how important they are to me, my family and future generations. Taking three tablets a day isn’t hard, but it has helped this study and it could potentially help lots of people in the future.

“This trial is still recruiting people and I would really encourage anyone with Lynch syndrome to consider talking to their doctor to see if they are eligible to take part. It could help you and so many others reduce their risk of developing certain types of cancer.”

Professor Burn aims to have recruited 1,500 participants by December 2017 by continuing to work with the Regional Genetics Centres across the country.

He said: “We’re still keen for anyone who has Lynch syndrome to consider joining the trial. This condition puts a huge burden on a family, but aspirin can make a difference and significantly cut a person’s risk of developing certain cancers. We’ve been able to show that even with genetic faults that give rise to Lynch syndrome, getting cancer doesn’t have to be inevitable and there are actions we can take to prevent it.

“Without funding from Stand Up To Cancer we simply couldn’t do what we’re doing – it is critical to progress. People supporting Stand Up To Cancer are really helping and enabling this work to happen.”

Launched in the UK in 2012, Stand Up To Cancer has already raised more than £25million to fund translational research, which takes developments made in the lab and transforms them into new tests and treatments for cancer patients.

Every day, 43 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North East.* By joining Stand Up To Cancer, supporters will be uniting with doctors, nurses, scientists and celebrities to generate funds, raise awareness and help accelerate progress in life-saving cancer research.

Lisa Millett, Cancer Research spokesperson for the North East said: “Stand Up To Cancer aims to accelerate the translation of brilliant scientific discoveries into innovative cancer tests and treatments. The CaPP3 trial is a perfect example of this.

“We should be proud that Newcastle is a hotbed for world-renowned cancer research. On our doorsteps, research is taking place that could change the face of cancer forever.”

The charity is urging people to sign up for their free fundraising pack which includes everything supporters need to spark creative ideas and help beat cancer sooner.

Stand Up To Cancer is supported by a host of celebrities including Davina McCall and Alan Carr. This year’s campaign culminates on Friday 21 October with a night of live TV on Channel 4 led by the brightest stars in film, TV and music.

For more information and to get involved visit standuptocancer.org.uk

If you are interested in joining CaPP3, visit www.capp3.org

By Emily