Secondary1st is proud to fund vital research that is seeking a cure for secondary breast cancer. In 2021 thanks to the continuing support of our wonderful donors and amazing fundraisers and despite all the difficulties caused by the pandemic we made grants to two separate research projects.

We awarded a third grant of a further £65,000 to fund the third year of a research project which had received similar levels of funding from us in 2019 and 2020. This project is led by Dr Seth Coffelt at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research at Glasgow University. Dr Coffelt and his team are studying the relationship between cancer and the immune system. Among various healthy cells, immune cells have emerged as powerful instigators of metastasis formation but, at the same time, immune cells can also prevent cancer cells from spreading. The team are interested in the two roles of these cells and how they are involved in the metastatic process, with the ultimate goal of developing new immunotherapies that counteract cancer spread.

Our other grant of a further £31,000 went to fund the second year of the PhD student working in the team led by Dr Klaus Pors at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford. Secondary1st has already funded the student’s first year at the same level from 2019. Dr Pors, who is a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology, and his team are investigating the enzymes which metabolise certain drugs. Some chemotherapy drugs have been shown to be ultra-potent but are so toxic that they also attack healthy tissue. The project is investigating ways of stopping these drugs attacking healthy tissue and so providing an effective source of treatment for secondary cancer.

In 2017 and 2018 we made grants of £75,000 each year to help fund a research team led by Dr Claire Wells at King’s College London. Dr Wells is a leading expert in how breast cancer cells migrate to other parts of the body, and is Reader in Cancer Cell Biology and Leader of the Cancer Cell Invasion and Metastasis Group at King’s. Her team investigated the ways in which breast cancer cells can dissociate from the primary tumour, invade the surrounding tissue and then metastasise to other vital organs, with particular reference to two molecules which work together with others in a group to make cancer cells move easily and become more invasive. Dr Wells’ work also aims to give a better understanding of which patients are more likely to be at risk of their cancer spreading.

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