Get A-Head Visit The Institute of Cancer Research

Posted by Anne-Marie on July 10, 2015

ICR Visit June 2015As supporters of Get A-Head, and an ACC patient myself, we were recently very privileged to be invited to visit the Institute of Cancer Research along with Get A-Head’s Chairman, Tom Bromwich, and Charity Manager, Louise Newton, to meet with Thomas Bland and Professor Kevin Harrington to understand where the money raised by Get A-Head for Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC) research is spent.  ACC is a rare cancer diagnosed in approximately 25 people in the UK each year.

Thomas explained that because ACC is a rare type of cancer, there is no government funding, as this is invested in the more common cancers that affect many people. Therefore they rely on funding from charities like Get A-Head to enable them to research ACC and MTC (Medullary Thyroid Cancer).  We were then introduced to Professor Kevin Harrington, who is a specialist in head and neck cancers, and it was clear that he is very passionate about the research of ACC.  He told us that he had chosen to research this particular cancer as it is a particularly difficult type to understand and he wanted the ultimate challenge.

We were given a presentation about the research conducted to date using funds from Get A-Head and the tests that they have carried out using mice to grow tumours and treat with various drugs. Although they had not yet discovered a drug that would cure ACC in all patients, the research team had found that one drug had reacted well in one mouse and they were looking for funding to trial the drug in the patient that they had obtained the tumour from.  This was very positive news, and showed that the funds provided by Get A-Head for the research are helping the team to gain a greater understanding of the cancer to continue to find a cure.  Professor Harrington also welcomed our specific questions relating to ACC and was happy to discuss them with us in detail.

Following the presentation, we were given white lab coats and were taken into the labs where the research is conducted.  We were shown the screening machines that are utilised to perform genetic testing, and it was explained that these types of screening machines cost around £250,000 to purchase and each set of tests cost £8,000, therefore it is critical that they get funding to enable them to get the latest equipment required to carry out the research. It was great to see the passion of the surgeons and the lab technicians hard at work trying to find a cure for many types of cancers. We could clearly see that the funds raised to date by Get A-Head had been well invested and that they were very optimistic that further research could lead to positive results in the future.

We would like to thank Get A-Head and the ICR for this opportunity and a very memorable visit that meant a lot to us both.

Tracy & Carl Turbitt