Institute of Cancer Research
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, UK is over 100 years old and work closely with the Royal Marsden Hospital, in London. Together they are one of the four top-rated facilities for cancer research and treatment, globally. Over the years ICR has been responsible for many life-enhancing discoveries and treatments. Some significant ones are:
They were the first to discover the carcinogens in cigarettes, from 1920
First in Europe to develop chemotherapy drugs, from 1950
Provided conclusive evidence that cancer is caused due to DNA damage, from 1960
Discovered the fundamental basis for cancer immunotherapy, in 1960
Led major practice-changing clinical trials in radiotherapy and imaging, from 1986
Discovered a gene that enabled families with a breast cancer history to be assessed for future risk, from 1990
Discovered and developed a major life-extending drug for prostate cancer, in 2012
ICR is funded through grants, royalty income, education council funding, and donations. Many parent-led organizations fund specific areas of research, especially those where no government grants or royalties are available.
Normally grants are available once research reaches a breakthrough stage, but the initial funding is always a challenge. Hence, there is a large dependency on fundraising and support from different sources. In 2016-17, donations contributed to around 13% of the total income for ICR.
The Rudy A Menon Foundation has been funding research in ICR by Prof. Chris Jones, on rare and inoperable brain cancers, such as Gliomatosis Cerebri, from 2014.
Prof. Chris Jones at ICR leads a team that researches on gliomas, which is a fatal and often inoperable form of brain tumor, in children. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and is the Biology Lead for the International Society for Paediatric Oncology European (SIOPE) High-Grade Glioma Working Group. One strain that they are specifically researching on covers Gliomatosis Cerebri, which is one of the least understood forms of brain cancer, and mainly affects children and young adults.
At the ICR they believe that the way to improve outcomes for children and young adults with poor-prognosis cancers is to understand the whole disease process, from initial genetic changes to the molecular features of the tumors themselves, and to use this information to pinpoint new treatment targets on the tumor cells. It is becoming clear that Gliomatosis Cerebri (GC) falls into the wider group of tumors known as gliomas.
Dr. Jones and his team are collaborating with researchers and facilities around the world to collect samples of GC. They then utilize these samples in two ways: firsts is to perform large-scale genetic sequencing to pinpoint genes that have mutated and driven the growth of these cancers. Then they also attempt to grow cells from these samples in the laboratory as there are no known GC “models” available for study.
As the team gains a deeper understanding of the genetic factors driving GC development and growth, hoping to identify drugs to counteract the faulty genes. The team will seek to either match an existing targeted therapy to the tumor or if one does not exist, to design a new one. They are looking forward to targeting the drugs precisely so they would be less likely to cause devastating side-effects. Laboratory-grown cell models will give the opportunity for promising treatments tested for their effectiveness. The team’s close relationship with clinical colleagues means that this information will be shared rapidly so that future clinical trials can have a basis.
“We are lucky to receive support from several parent-led and philanthropic foundations. The fact that there is such an unmet clinical need in this area, and that any progress we can make would allow families to avoid such a tragedy, hugely motivates my team, of which I am very proud to be a part,” Dr. Chris Jones, Head of the Glioma Team.
Join the advocacy and become part of the community that was established to support groundbreaking research in finding a cure for Gliomatosis Cerebri. Partners are either family touched by Gliomatosis Cerebri or foundations supporting the same cause. Click below to learn how to join the community.