The image shown above is a T-lymphocyte, which is a type of white blood cell. It is part of the immune system, and plays a vital role in the treatments The Christie is researching for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Unlike many other cancers, melanoma is common in young adults.
Major advances have been made in melanoma research in recent years, but there is much more we need to do. We now need to fund more research, to build on these achievements and help more of our patients to survive this aggressive cancer.
To do this, we must expand our clinical research team. The Christie charity is helping to fund three senior melanoma researchers at The Christie. They can help us to take on more studies, with a view to unlocking the potential of immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
Immunotherapy and targeted therapy can have a dramatic impact on melanoma. However not all patients benefit from these treatments, and for many others, the benefit is limited. Our aim is to improve how effective our treatments are, and to allow us to personalise treatments, picking the very best treatment for an individual based on the specific type of melanoma they have.
What is immunotherapy?
Your immune system is so powerful that it can potentially fight cancer on its own. Unfortunately, cancer cells can disguise themselves using cloaking molecules like PD-L1, which protects them from our immune system. Immunotherapy removes this disguise and gives your immune system the chance to attack the cancer cells. It is revolutionising the treatment of melanoma and other cancers, but there remains a lot of room for improvement.
What is targeted therapy?
Cancer is caused when cells inside your body mutate. These mutations can make the cancer cells grow and spread. It can also make them resistant to drugs. Melanoma, for instance, can be caused when a cell experiences a change in the protein “BRAF”. Targeted therapy looks to tailor drugs so that they specifically target the mutated cancer cells. Targeted therapy drugs also have little impact on other cells in a patient’s body.
What will your donation help to achieve?
Your donation will help to fund melanoma research happening right here in Manchester, by supporting world-leading experts. One of the three new posts is a senior consultant who will spend 50% of their time doing melanoma research, which is what the charity will fund. The other 50%, funded by the NHS, will be spent treating patients. With this dedicated focus on research, The Christie can initiate major new studies into melanoma. The lessons we learn will also have major benefits for other cancers.
The Christie is the perfect place for research such as this, as we can work closely with our patients and our scientists. This close working relationship with patients is one of the many things that attracts world-class researchers to The Christie. So, by donating to this appeal, you won't just be supporting our researchers but the patients we are are treating too!