Triple research funding success from local charity

Three new research studies at Keele University have been awarded £58,000 from local charity the North Staffordshire Medical Institute (NSMI).

The funding will support the research based at Keele University’s Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine  in collaboration with the University Hospital of the North Midlands (UHNM), designed to improve treatments for cancer, heart disease and muscle wasting in the elderly.

The panel awarded £18,450 towards a study into treatment-resistant cancers, led by Dr Alan Richardson. His team aims to restore the sensitivity of cancer cells to the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel. Dr Vinoj George was awarded £20,000 to investigate the heart condition Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The research hopes to identify those at most risk from the disease, which can cause sudden death. Finally, cell and tissue engineer Dr Adam Sharples and his colleagues were given £19,985 to research muscle wastage in the elderly.

Dr Richardson, Reader in Pharmacology, said:

“The funding will substantially help us in our research to discover new treatments for drug resistant cancers. I am particularly pleased to receive the funding from NSMI, because this study builds upon NSMI supported research I first conducted when I came to Keele.

“Developing new treatments for drug-resistant cancer is particularly important because it is one of the key reasons for treatment failure in patients. Although tumours in patients with cancer may shrink after treatment, sometimes they can come back in a form that doesn't respond to conventional therapies. Thus, new treatments are needed.”

Dr George, Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said:

“I am very honoured to receive funding from NSMI in recognition of our efforts to understand and regulate a cardiac muscle disorder called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a predominantly inherited disease that manifests with different severities in younger adults and in some cases, leading to sudden death.

“This NSMI grant brings together collaborative expertise in stem cells and bioinformatics between clinicians at Keele University and St George’s Hospital in London, to translate this work to potential avenues for disease management, with this approach being applied across other cardiac disease and cancer models in the lab.”

A panel of experts led by NSMI’s chairman Professor Shaughn O’Brien, a leading obstetrician and gynaecologist, allocated the funds after reviewing the applications.

Professor O’Brien said:

“We were very impressed by the research proposals we received. The reasons for our choices were the outstanding quality of the applications, the importance of the disease areas and the strong track records of the departments involved in delivering research. We are confident these projects will be of great value to the community of Staffordshire and to medicine as a whole.”