In 2019, Norfolk Freemasons together with the Masonic Charitable Foundation raised and donated £190,213 to cancer research at The University of East Anglia. Here, the team at the UEA give an update on their progress.
Over the past decade, Professor Colin Cooper and his team at the UEA have been working to improve the accuracy of prostate cancer diagnosis, to better inform who does or does not require radical treatment. Professor Cooper’s work has evolved into two revolutionary new tests: the Tiger Test which will enable clinicians to distinguish aggressive forms of prostate cancer from slow-growing ones, and the Prostate Urine Risk (PUR) Test – a non-invasive urine test to more accurately diagnose aggressive prostate cancers up to five years earlier than current methods. These developments could help transform prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, thereby improving and saving lives around the world.
Your donation of £190,213 towards prostate cancer research at the UEA enabled us to purchase an Affymetrix Microarray Scanner, which was
installed in the purpose-built diagnostic screening laboratory in the Bob Champion Research and Education building in January this year. The scanner will enable the team to collect Affymetrix expression arrays profile data from prostate cancer cells in a computer-readable format, to calculate if a patient has a high risk “tiger” cancer or low-risk cancer.
With the Diagnostic Screening Laboratory set up and equipment in place, the team was primed to begin clinical trials for the Tiger Test. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown restrictions forced us to postpone commencement of the trials until a time when our researchers could work safely in the lab, and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital had the necessary capacity time and resource to support the work, without limiting their response to the virus. Despite the limitations the team has faced, they have made every effort to progress the research where possible. Bioinformatic analysis has continued throughout lockdown and the team have been working hard to ensure their vital research is published, an important step in promoting the project within the scientific community, garnering support and forging external links to enhance the research into a clinical test once it has been validated through trials.
During the lockdown period, the team has published two papers reporting advances in how to use the Tiger Test in a clinical setting, as well as the introduction of a new mathematical analysis approach that is even quicker than the previous method. The team also discovered how to use the Tiger Test together with conventional clinical markers, expanding the scope of how this test can support clinicians. The team has also used this time to finalise the structure of the new home urine collection kit for the PUR Test.
They are now currently producing 1,500 kits ready to send out to collect the necessary data for their clinical research.
Your support has been invaluable making this vital research a reality, bringing hope to millions of men and their families across the world. With the easing of lockdown restrictions, the team is now preparing to begin clinical trials as soon as possible and we look forward to updating you in the progress of these trials in due course.
Thank you again for your support.