Science Talk: the ICR blog

“I survived cancer as a child and now I’m working to defeat it” – Andrew’s story

Andrew Wicks, a PhD student at The Institute of Cancer Research, knows firsthand what it’s like to face cancer. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) at the age of 12, he went through years of treatment before getting the all-clear. Now, wanting to help others with cancer, he is carrying out research in our Breast Cancer Research Division. Here, he shares his story.

Using the principles of evolution to defeat cancer

This Evolution Day, we look at how scientists in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are applying the principles of evolution to their research.

“We need to stop other children from having to go through this” - Tommy’s story

Tommy Edwards was just four years old when his parents noticed symptoms suggesting something wasn’t right. Tests revealed he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Following nearly three years of treatment, Tommy is now looking towards the future. His parents, Chris and Jo Edwards, have set up a charity to fund research into ALL. In this blog, Chris explains how groundbreaking work by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research is giving them hope for the future.

“My experience has highlighted to me just how vital cancer research is” - Erin’s story

Erin Kennedy MBE is a British Paralympic coxswain. In 2022, at the age of 29, she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, and was successfully treated. She later found she has a mutation in her BRCA1 gene which means she has a higher risk of her cancer returning. In the summer of 2023, she supported our Finish Cancer campaign. Here she tells her story.

Harnessing the power of AI to improve outcomes for people with breast cancer

Scientists at the ICR are investigating how AI can help us improve the lives of people with breast cancer. Here, we learn about the work of Dr Stephen-John Sammut and other researchers who are focusing on this technology.

We can’t defeat cancer without acknowledging the differences between men and women

Isy Godfrey looks at why sex disparities persist in cancer and speaks with Dr Anna Wilkins about her work highlighting the sex gap in bladder cancer survival.

ESMO 2023: Using blood tests to help treat breast cancer more precisely – Professor Nick Turner on his award-winning research

Professor Nicholas Turner, Professor of Molecular Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, has received the Translational Research Award by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Laura-Maria Horga spoke with him about the remarkable impact he has had in cancer research throughout his career so far.

Our changing approach to rare cancers is driving progress, but we still have further to go

To mark Rare Cancer Day, Isy Godfrey looks at how we are making progress in this field and speaks with paediatric brain tumour expert Professor Chris Jones about his experiences.

‘The role of advocacy is extremely important’ – improving treatment for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma

Much of our cutting-edge work is only possible because of the help we receive from our supporters, including our wonderful family charity partners. Dr Sally George, who leads our Developmental Oncology group at the ICR, explains why these partnerships are so important.

“We’re all working towards a future where children don’t die from cancer” – Hannah's story

Hannah Tarplee was four years old when her parents noticed a lump in her tummy which turned out to be a cancerous tumour. Despite intensive treatment, it became untreatable, and Hannah died just seven months after the lump was discovered. The Little Princess Trust, which was set up in her memory, funds our research, as one of our valued family charity partners. Her mum, Wendy Tarplee-Morris, explains how Hannah’s legacy is now giving hair and hope to thousands of children and young people.

“Research is what’s going to save these children” – Siobhan’s story

Siobhan Mather was two years old when she became lethargic and didn’t want to eat. Tests revealed she had a tumour above her adrenal gland - it was neuroblastoma. With treatment, Siobhan went into remission and her family and friends raised money to fund a trial abroad. Sadly, the cancer returned, and Siobhan was unable to travel. She passed away in June 2019 when she was four years old. Her parents, Sarah and Antony Mather, explain how they’re using the funds raised to support our research as one of our valued family charity partners.

“Immunotherapy is a game-changer” – Glenys’ story

Glenys Gregory recently became a grandmother, but at one point, she’d wondered if she would live to see him born. In January 2020, Glenys was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer after nursing her mother through the same disease. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, she went straight onto immunotherapy and a scan in summer 2023 revealed that she had no evidence of disease. Here she tells her story.

Cancer researchers are shining a spotlight on RNA

To mark World RNA Day, Isy Godfrey explores why cancer researchers are increasingly interested in RNA and considers the impact this essential molecule may have on the future cancer treatment landscape.

How do we overcome treatment resistance in a sarcoma cancer with already limited treatment options?

Leiomyosarcoma is a type of soft tissue sarcoma that is hard-to-treat and associated with a poor prognosis. Scientists at the ICR are working to better understand the biology of this cancer to develop more targeted and effective treatment options. Elena Daviter-Nowell spoke to Dr Will Kerrison about the future of cancer treatment for patients with leiomyosarcoma.

“Immunotherapy is the way forward” - Camilla’s story

Camilla Keeling was a month away from celebrating her 61st birthday when she was diagnosed with skin cancer. After having it removed, she thought she was in the clear but not long after, she found out it had spread to her lungs, and later, her brain and bowel. She is now receiving immunotherapy which has seen her tumours shrink and given her renewed hope. Here is her story.

“Immunotherapy is keeping me alive” - John’s story

On his daughter’s second birthday in 2009, John Dabell was diagnosed with advanced head and neck cancer. He went through extensive surgery and treatment and was on the road to recovery when he was diagnosed with cancer again – this time, a tumour in his throat. John was told he didn’t have long to live. But then he started immunotherapy. Here, he talks about its incredible impact and the opportunity it’s given him to spend more time with his wife and daughter.

Channelling a diagnosis into change: Carols from Chelsea chair reflects as she stands down after seven years

Christmas may feel far away, but plans are already underway for this year’s Carols from Chelsea. It’s the flagship fundraising event of the ICR’s calendar, raising almost £2 million for our life-changing research over the 20 years it’s been running. Diana MacKenzie-Charrington recently stepped down as chair of the committee behind the evening, and here she reflects on her experiences and motivations.

Inspiring tomorrow's leaders – an education strategy for a changing world

Chief Research and Academic Officer, Dr Barbara Pittam, sets out how we will empower the next generation of cancer researchers by providing the best possible education, training and careers support.

ASCO 2023: Cancer experts gather in Chicago

This June world-leading cancer researchers from around the globe are getting ready to present and discuss the latest advances in the oncology at the 2023 ASCO Annual meeting in Chicago. Ahead of the meeting, we look at some of the ICR’s research being presented this year.

“I’m so grateful to be here’’ - How immunotherapy sparked Graham’s remarkable recovery

Graham Bonner was in his early fifties when he went from cycling 100 miles a week to being dependant on oxygen. He'd been diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2020, and later the father-of-three learned it had spread to his lungs, abdomen and lymph glands. But after treatment with immunotherapy, he made what he describes a ‘miraculous’ recovery and his scan showed no evidence of disease. Here he tells his story.

Small molecules, clinical trials and protein degradation: our new Head of Chemistry on 25 years in cancer drug discovery

Professor Swen Hoelder gave his inaugural lecture recently to mark his promotion to Professor at the ICR in 2020 – an event that had been postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

Hacking students’ knowledge at the first ever Chemical Probes Portal Hackathon

The Chemical Probes Portal completed its first ever Probe Hackathon, bringing students and experts together to evaluate the quality of tools for biomedical research and drug discovery.

From cancer patient to marathon runner - Susanna’s story

Susanna Stephenson was diagnosed with breast cancer just three days before her 42nd birthday in 2014. Following treatment, the mum of two has now recovered and is part of our amazing #teamICR runners taking on the 2023 London Marathon.

Running the Marathon in memory of Mum – Daniel’s story

Daniel Davidson’s mum, Amanda Hood, died of cancer during the pandemic, just months after her diagnosis. Now to celebrate her life, he is running the 2023 London Marathon as part of #teamICR. Here Daniel explains why, despite the challenges of working on an oil rig in the North Sea and not being a keen runner, he is determined to take on this gruelling race to raise vital funds for our research.

Olaparib – a story of hope for cancer patients

In 1995 researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, uncovered the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA2. This discovery helped families to assess their cancer risk through genetic testing, enabling them to be closely monitored or take preventative measures.