22 August 2017
North West Cancer Research is to provide an additional £454,000 worth of funding as part of its latest drive to boost life-saving cancer research at Lancaster University.

The charity which has already ploughed more than £2.5million into research at the University, will provide the additional funding over the next three years. 

It includes support for two projects, each focusing on basic level research designed to further our understanding of skin cancer and support future advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The first North West Cancer Research funded project will look at the human immune system and how it is alerted to DNA damage in skin cells. It will be led by Dr Leonie Unterholzner.

The second will tackle melanoma, a cancer of melanocytes and one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. This work involves a series of experiments to better understand how melanocytes respond to the UV radiation in the sun’s rays.

It will be led by Dr Richard Mort and Dr Sarah Allinson from the Faculty of Health and Medicine.

Dr Mort said: “Over the past 40 years we have seen melanoma diagnosis increase substantially, seven-fold in men and four-fold in women.

“Here at Lancaster we have led on several research projects which have helped advance the understanding of skin cancer, but there still remains a lack of knowledge on the earliest stages of these types of cancers.”

Dr Allinson added: “Thanks to funding from North West Cancer Research we will be able to investigate these early events. Our outcomes will be used to inform future projects to better diagnose the disease and develop more effective treatment methods for patients. 

“Lancaster University is quickly becoming a centre of excellence for cancer research. Skin cancer is a developing focus for us, especially when viewed against the backdrop of increasingly high rates of the disease in the region. We are grateful for the charity’s continued support as the team here develops its understanding of cancer.”

Funding from North West Cancer Research has already improved the understanding of other forms of cancer such as leukaemia and prostate cancers. Its continued commitment has generated funding for basic, translational and clinical research, supporting clinicians, doctors, researchers and students.

In July, the charity became the first organisation to be inducted into Lancaster University’s Chancellor’s College of Benefactors in recognition of its multi-million-pound funding support.

Alastair Richards, CEO North West Cancer Research added: “As a charity, we pride ourselves on only backing the very best quality of research – research which will ultimately deliver significant breakthroughs and have a direct impact on people living in Lancaster and the North West.

“Cancer is one of the biggest killers in our region. Thanks to research, half of all people diagnosed with cancer today will survive.

“It is our promise to ensure a constant flow of research funding over the lifetime of the charity to ensure that in the future everyone diagnosed with cancer will have a better chance to survive.”

North West Cancer Research encourages applications for funding on a bi-annual basis. To ensure only the highest quality of research is funded, each application is extensively considered and peer-reviewed by a specially selected scientific committee comprising of leading professors, award-winning scientists and pioneering professionals.