Action Against Cancer self-entitled logo, orange and maroon


Action Against Cancer funds the development of cures for cancer at Imperial College, led by world-renowned oncologist, Professor Justin Stebbing.

The groundbreaking programmes that we fund focus on developing new diagnostics and treatments to improve the survival prospects and quality of life for millions of cancer sufferers worldwide.

Developing a new drug - A totally new approach to therapy

Professor Stebbing's team recently gained international acclaim after discovering the cancer causing gene 'LMTK3'. The team have found that this gene promotes resistance to treatment for breast, colon, gastric and brain cancer sufferers . Action Against Cancer is supporting the development of a revolutionary new drug to inhibit this gene. The drug could provide hope to millions of cancer sufferers worldwide.

Click here to read on about this programme.

Understanding the Cancer Brain

Cancer cells can be thought of as having a 'brain'. Whilst we can hold certain, physically identifiable, sections of the human brain responsible for particular behaviour types, the cancer brain is more complex. Rather than manifesting itself as a single mass, the cancer brain is better thought of as a labyrinth of pathways in which an intricate set of chemical reactions between different proteins takes place.

Action Against Cancer is funding a huge experiment aimed at gaining a comprehensive understanding of the cancer brain, to learn exactly what takes place during the onset and growth of cancer – one protein at a time. This will be pioneering research that generations of scientists will refer to, a true legacy experiment that will pave the way for the design of drugs, targeting those proteins that are found to play the most important role in the progression of cancer. Click here to read on about this programme.

Cancer Stem Cells - Getting to the Root of the Problem

Between 1-5% of the total mass of a cancer is composed of Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs). CSCs are responsible for some of the most malignant features of cancer, including chemo-resistance and metastasis (secondary cancer spread). Metastasis can take place many months or years after surgery to remove the primary tumour and other treatments have been delivered. It is as if the dandelion has been removed from the lawn, but the root is left below the surface to regrow at a later date.

Professor Stebbing's team have recently embarked on a project aimed at gaining a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms behind CSCs. Gaining such a comprehensive picture of how CSCs operate will help the team answer important questions such as: 'how could future treatments specifically target the most malignant cells?', 'why do certain patients not respond to treatments?' and 'what conditions allow some tumours to metastasise around the body?' Click here to read on about this programme.

Targeting the Guardian of the Genome

The protein 'p53' was first discovered in 1979 and has earned the name 'the guardian of the genome' due to its crucial role in controlling the growth of cells and, more importantly, preventing the growth and spread of abnormal or cancerous cells and causing them to die. A number of changes must occur within a normal cell for it to become cancerous, but it is widely believed that the development of abnormal p53, or loss of its production, is the single most important step in this process. Despite p53's importance, no one has 'cracked' how to target it therapeutically. Action Against Cancer is funding a groundbreaking programme designed to achieve this goal. Because p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in so many cancers, targeting it is almost certain to have applicability in most tumour types.

Click here to read on about this programme.

Metastasis (the development of secondary cancer) - understanding its causes and developing new diagnostics and treatments

i. to better predict the likelihood of cancerous cells metastasising (spreading) in each patient

ii. to tailor the testing for patients with a high likelihood of their cancer metastasising so as to improve the likelihood of early diagnosis

iii. to improve the therapeutic strategies for these patients once a propensity for metastasis of their cancer has been identified, thus greatly increasing their chances of survival

Some 2016 achievements in the lab

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Latest updates from the lab

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