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Thu 17 Mar 2022

It's British Science Week!

It’s British Science Week – #BSW22- and we wanted to share stories from two of our students to celebrate! Gemma and Jack are joint funded by ourselves and the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS2). As well as carrying out their vital research, both have found time to volunteer for us. Read more about these amazing young scientists below!

Gemma Davies

Gemma is a Tenovus Cancer Care and KESS funded researcher at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research institute in Cardiff. Her work aims to establish a new early detection test for Kidney Cancer that will hopefully improve patient outcomes.

“Kidney cancer is the 7th most common cancer type in the UK and accounts for around 4,500 deaths a year. Kidney cancer is very difficult to diagnose due to its non-specific symptoms and the current lack of diagnostic tests, so it is often only diagnosed during scans or treatment for other diseases.

“Unfortunately, by this point the cancer is often advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, meaning that currently available treatments and surgery are no longer an option. My research aims to establish a new test to detect kidney cancer in its early stages, when surgery and treatment will be more effective, providing a better outlook for patients.

“The Tenovus Cancer Care and KESS funding I receive has been essential in enabling me to purchase equipment and agents needed for my work. The team continue to be very supportive of my research and has provided great opportunities to engage with the public who are interested to learn more about kidney cancer.

“Tenovus Cancer Care have hosted lab tours across Wales, giving people the chance to see behind the scenes and ask questions about the research being funded. They’ve also attended events with student volunteers like me, to engage with the public, telling them about my research in unique ways, such as making DNA necklaces. This enjoyable experience gave an insight into techniques used in the lab and provided a very unusual souvenir to take home! Through these events we hope to raise public awareness of kidney cancer and the need for early detection.

“In the past few years I’ve lost both my stepdad and grandad to cancer, and these losses have driven my desire to go into cancer research. Sadly, cancer now affects most people’s lives in one way or another, but I hope to make a difference so that one day no one will go through the heartbreak that cancer brings to patients and their families.

“Tenovus Cancer Care supported my family during my stepdad’s cancer treatment and so have always been a charity I hold dear. Their important fundraising work allows them to continue funding vital cancer research like mine, while also directly supporting cancer patients and their loved ones through the most difficult times.”

Jack Owen

Jack is a Tenovus Cancer Care and KESS funded researcher at the School of Medical Sciences at Bangor University. His work aims to prevent resistance to DNA damaging treatments, and further the development of personalised cancer therapy.

Certain cancer treatments such as ionising radiation and chemotherapy work by damaging the DNA of cancer cells in such a way that prevents the cancer cell from being able to replicate and thus preventing tumour growth. When certain people are administered a DNA damaging treatment, they develop resistance to the treatment and their cancer can continue to grow.

“One of the proteins found to be involved in this resistance is a DNA repair protein known as Mre11. My project is currently looking into drugs that could be administered to prevent Mre11 from causing the resistance to the initial DNA damaging treatment(s).

“This research provides more hope for those people who do develop resistance to treatments and may contribute to fewer side effects for the patient. Tenovus Cancer Care’s funding and support allows me to go into the lab every day and continue to research this therapy.

“Tenovus Cancer Care partners with several bodies to help raise awareness of the support available to the public, more recently with the Football Association Wales (FAW) during the latest European championship. To help with the campaign, I volunteered by attending a local Tenovus Cancer Care shop and spoke to the FAW about the research I do at Bangor and how Tenovus has helped me personally and in my research.

“During my volunteering, I had the opportunity to meet other Tenovus Cancer Care staff and volunteers which highlighted the importance of how their work is supporting my research into the prevention of DNA damaging treatment.

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010