Island Thanked for part played in cancer equation

25/09/2009

A SCIENTIST who has developed an equation that could be used in the future to test whether someone will get cancer visited the island this week to discuss his research. University of Southampton professor Paul Townsend thanked the island for its contribution to his work – all money raised through Hope for Guernsey goes to help his research. But the Guernsey connection to the research goes much further, as samples donated by 11,000 Guernsey women 40 years ago have been used by Dr Townsend to identify certain tell-tale signs of breast cancer.

The equation has now been applied to show signs of prostate cancer and it is hoped the study could lead to ‘the holy grail’ of cancer diagnosis.
Dr Townsend held two presentations for health professionals on Wednesday and yesterday met key workers, including director of public health Dr Stephen Bridgman, to explain research.

‘We were trying to find molecular fingerprints that may predict whether someone will get cancer or not,’ he said.

‘We have found that, a pattern found in people who develop cancer that is not there in people who do not get cancer, and now we are trying to improve it.’

Dr Townsend said the equation was about 80% accurate at identifying whether people who gave samples during the last four decades went on to develop cancer.

‘The equation is not 100%,’ he said. ‘You would not use it as a diagnostic at the moment. For something to be used as a diagnostic it has to be above 95%. We are not at that yet, but we think we will be in the future.’

He has been developing the research for the last two-and-a-half years and said it would never have begun without support from Guernsey.

‘I came over in part to say thank you to the people here who have supported us, but also to speak to health professionals, show where we are and where we want to go and try to ensure that our relationship with Guernsey continues,’ he said.

Chairman of Hope for Guernsey Roger Allsopp said the developments were extremely exciting.

‘We have been raising money for this research and it was a wonderful presentation of very exciting results,’ he said.

‘There is a really good chance that Guernsey patients will benefit in the future and it is not just limited to breast and prostate cancer, it has the potential to help patients with all forms of cancer.

‘Every penny that is raised in Guernsey goes towards this project and I hope we will be in a position to do a public presentation on it in a year’s time.’

Research scientist Dr Paul Townsend, centre, with Hope for Guernsey chairman Roger Allsopp, left, and Peter Dawes, trust director of Wessex Medical Research.     (Picture by Peter Frankland, 0845520)

 



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