Students go over the edge for worldwide cancer research

Around 30 students, staff and friends of the University of Bath will be taking part in a charity abseil by the Clifton Suspension Bridge on the morning of Wednesday 26 February to raise money for the leading international cancer research charity Worldwide Cancer Research (formerly known as the AICR).

The courageous fundraisers are hoping to raise over £1,500 for the UK charity that funds vital cancer research worldwide. Professor Mike Threadgill and Dr Amit Nathubhai of the University of Bath, who are currently funded by Worldwide Cancer Research, will also be there to lend their support.

Olivia Stillwagon, 20, a student of Pharmacy at Bath is one of the participants: “I'm really excited and a little bit nervous about doing the abseil. I've never done it before but I'm up for a new challenge. As committee member of Bath RAG I enjoy fundraising so I'm really looking forward to helping this brilliant cause.”

At the University’s Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, Professor Mike Threadgill and Dr Nathubhai are using their Worldwide Cancer Research grant to make potential new anti-cancer drugs that will act on specific proteins which are present at abnormally high levels in cancer cells. This makes them good targets to selectively kill cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed.

The specific shapes of these proteins are already known and the researchers are using computer software to design potential new drugs in “virtual reality”, making the discovery process more efficient by cutting out laboratory work on those chemicals which can be predicted to be ineffective. They will then test the the drugs to see if they actually work on the proteins (known as Tankyrases) but on no other useful proteins.

Professor Threadgill and Dr Nathubhai hope that the completion of this project will provide one or more potential anti-cancer drugs which work by new mechanisms of action.

Professor Threadgill commented: “I’ve been researching new cancer drug treatments for over 20 years and Worldwide Cancer Research has funded a lot of this work. Just recently, we have had two projects which are showing promise; one in stopping cancer cells dividing, the other in prostate cancer. Support from Worldwide Cancer Research has been key in both discoveries.”

The abseil will take place by the Sea Wall, Avon Gorge, on the Port Way near the Clifton Suspension Bridge from 11.00am.

To help them reach their fundraising target, please visit the team’s Justgiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/SmartyPantsAbseil-RAG

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