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Ladies battle elements for cancer research

21 June 2012

Ladies battle elements for cancer research
(Left to right) Debs Davies, Jane Meyrick, Professor Alan Clarke and Averil Upham with the £5,000 cheque.

A walk through the wind and the rain organised by the ladies of Tenby's Tangent Club has boosted cancer stem cell research at Cardiff.

The Club organised a fund-raising walk to help Professor Alan Clarke last year, refusing to be put off by the driving rain.

Now Tangent Club members have visited Professor Clarke at the University, to hand over the £5,000 raised and to learn more about his work as Director of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI) .

The Club's links with Professor Clarke go back more than eight years. Club member Ruth Webb read some of the national media coverage of his breakthrough in identifying MBD2 – a protein which may be 'hijacked' by cancer cells to shutdown normal defensive mechanisms and so allow cancers to grow.

Tangent Club member Averil Upham said: "At that time we had a member who unfortunately had terminal breast cancer. We decided to raise money for Alan's research with a 'Bosom Buddies' walk through Tenby."

Since then, Professor Clarke has become Director of Cardiff's European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, which aims to tackle cancer by focussing on a subsets of cells within tumours that may be the key drivers of tumour growth. Many of the Tangent Club members know people affected by cancer and they decided on another walk three-mile walk through the town last year.

Averil said: "The weather was terrible, with heavy winds and rain. However, about 150 of us of all ages turned out, including mothers pushing prams. It was a fun event, despite the rain."

Professor Clarke
Professor Clarke helps Jane Meyrick look for cancer stem cells, watched by Averil Upham (centre) and Debs Davies.

During the ladies' visit to the School of Biosciences, Professor Clarke explained some of the science behind cancer stem cells, which may be crucial to the formation, growth and spread of tumours. He also gave them a tour of his laboratories, demonstrating some of the kind of equipment their money will help pay for. The £5,000 the club raised includes a £750 donation from Barclays Bank.

Jane Meyrick, who chaired the Tangent Club at the time of the walk said: "The work Alan is doing here at Cardiff is incredible. The equipment he needs is very expensive and we'd like to think our walk has gone some way towards helping. We aim to keep in touch with the Institute's work and hope to support it again."

Professor Clarke said: "I'm very touched and very grateful for the Tangent Club's continuing and interest and support in our work. We are presently preparing to move into laboratories in the University's new Hadyn Ellis Building and every contribution like the Club's will help with our plans. Our ultimate aim is to understand the role cancer stem cells play in different types of cancer, and develop new treatments by targeting them."

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