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Focusing on link between diet and cancer

12 May 2017

Lyndon Wood and wife participate in research

Lyndon Wood, one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, is helping to fund new research into the prevention of bowel cancer.

The innovative research, which focuses on the link between diet and cancer, is taking place at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute – one of Cardiff University’s flagship research centres. Established in 2011, the Institute is the only centre in Europe completely focused on cancer stem cell research, and its principal aim is to developnew therapies that will transform the survival rates for patients suffering from all types of cancer.

Mr Wood, founder of online insurance broker and Moorhouse Group, has made a substantial donation to the Institute to fund a year-long post doctorate position in the laboratory of Dr Lee Parry. The position, taken up by Dr Stephanie May, will explore how dietary components alter the behaviour of both normal and cancerous stem cells. In particular, Dr May’s work will focus on black raspberries and short-chain fatty acids, and how they could potentially help to prevent the development and growth of colorectal cancer.

High-impact cancer research

Mr Wood first visited the Institute in October last year, along with a fundraising team from Enterprise Rent a Car; a company which has been a long-term supporter of the Institute. He explained: “My wife, Shirley Ann, who has suffered recently with stage 3 breast cancer, and I, had the opportunity to visit the Institute as part of a lab tour that was being organised by Cardiff’s Development and Alumni Relations team. We were really impressed to discover the high-impact cancer research that is taking place virtually on our doorstep.”

Lyndon Wood and wife with Univeristy researcher

Inspired by what he saw during his visit, Mr Wood was keen to fund a research position that concentrated specifically on disease prevention – a key interest for Mr Wood and his wife.

“As I see it, prevention is the future of health, and the prevention work going on in Dr Parry’s lab ticked all the boxes for me,” said Mr Wood.

“Currently, there is much more funding available for research into cures rather than prevention. For the sake of our health and the future of the NHS, this is a mindset that needs to change, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to help progress this vital area of research.”

Lyndon Wood Founder of and Moorhouse Group

“Support local causes”

The proximity of the Institute was also a big factor in his decision.

He continued: “I prefer to support local causes wherever possible and I’m really keen to support and raise awareness of the fantastic research that is going on right here in Cardiff. I hope I can inspire others to get involved in supporting disease prevention research at Cardiff. The fact that 100% of all donations to the Institute go directly towards research was another big plus point for me.”

Dr May explained the potential impact of the donation: “Without support from the Wood family, I simply would not have been able to continue my research at Cardiff...”

“Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK, and previous research has shown that more than half of cases could have been prevented through lifestyle changes.”

Dr Stephanie May Post doctorate researcher

“Preventing the growth and spread of colorectal cancer through changes in diet is a key interest for me, particularly in relation to the black raspberry, which has been shown to reduce tumour burden in animal models and human cancer patients. After seeing some interesting and potentially promising results in my PhD project, I am keen to explore this further by testing the compound on human tissue.”

“The beginning of a really exciting relationship”

“The generous gift from the Wood family will enable me to take this important area of research to the next level, opening up the possibility of finding new ways to prevent and treat this often deadly disease,” added Dr May.

Matt Smalley, Deputy Director of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Wood family for their generous donation, and delighted to be at the beginning of a really exciting relationship with them...”

“As a charity we rely on donations such as this to continue our research into potential cancer therapies. This new funding allows us to continue and expand upon our important prevention work, ultimately helping us to transform the way we tackle disease.”

Professor Matt Smalley Professor

In addition to his original donation, Mr Wood has chosen Cardiff University and the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute as Moorhouse Group’s charity of the year. Mr Wood and his employees will be undertaking a number of community fundraising initiatives (including entering a team in the upcoming Gauntlet Games), as well as launching a crowdfunding campaign to help support the ongoing work of the Institute.

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