Latest news  //  

Manchester is the cancer capital of England. Death rates from the disease are higher than anywhere else in the country.

There are many reasons for this such as poor lifestyles and people going to see their GP too late. But one thing is certain: this is a situation which cannot carry on.

Unless this current generation starts to take stock, this sorry picture could get even worse.

Fortunately, thanks to pioneering work at places like the Christie, treatments are getting better and survival rates are improving all the time. But the best cure of all has to be to not get the disease in the first place and there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.

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Why  //

Manchester v Cancer is the idea of ex-Smith, Andy Rourke, following news that his manager's sister and father had been diagnosed with cancer. Andy and his new company, Great Northern Productions Ltd decided to group together to raise £1million to fund cancer research at Manchester's Christie Hospital, Europe's largest cancer treatment and research centre.

Picking up the phone to friends, Andy quickly found that most people's lives had been touched by cancer in some way and everyone wanted to help.

Speaking about the gig, Andy said: "It will bring together people and bands that have made Manchester famous. It will be huge and the idea is that this will be the start of an annual event to raise money for charity whether it is helping cancer or arthritis. It will be bigger and bigger each year, the highlight of the musical calendar."

Toni Leden, Appeals Director at the Christie said: "Everyone at the Christie is extremely excited about the concert and we're absolutely delighted that some of the biggest names in the music industry are giving up their time to support our cause – it is a massive coup for us! We hope it will be a fabulous event, that will raise a great deal of money for the hospital and help take us all towards a future without cancer."

Research  //  T-Cell Therapy Trials  //

Professor Hawkins wants to trial "gene-modified T-cell therapy".

Scientists working at the Christie Hospital have discovered a way to genetically engineer cells in cancer patients to hunt down and destroy tumours. The world's first patient trials are due to start at the Christie Hospital later this year on the revolutionary new treatment to boost the immune system.

Unlike radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which work by destroying both healthy and cancerous cells in a certain area of the body, doctors say they have found a way of making the body naturally seek out and kill tumours by boosting the patient's infection-fighting cells.

Researchers at the hospital, led by the clinical director of medical oncology Professor Robert Hawkins, are now working on the treatment - known as gene-modified t-cell therapy - which is said to have had "spectacular" results in lab tests.

Funding of £250,000 will allow the trials to begin.

The body naturally produces a small quantity of t-cells, a type of infection-fighting white cell which directly attacks virus-infected cells and cancer cells and destroys them. But the body doesn't have enough of these cells to combat huge tumours, and cancer cells often develop protective mechanisms to avoid them being recognised by the body as a disease.

To solve this problem, doctors want to take blood samples from cancer patients to extract t-cells. Then, in the lab, they can genetically modify the t-cells, attaching an antibody which works like a tracking device to enable the t-cells to zone in on cancer tumours. The t-cells are then multiplied a thousand-fold over a two-week period and injected back into the patient's body. Now Professor Hawkins is appealing for funds to enable the trials to go ahead treating patients that cancer drugs, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have already failed.

He said: "In the lab we have seen spectacular results in lung tumours and in the brain. It's remarkable. Given as an injection, it could get rid of a widespread range of tumours. The cells hunt down cancer cells and destroy them. The results are very impressive, especially in cancers that have proved impossible to treat through conventional treatments. The t-cells target cancer cells so they don't damage normal tissue."

The treatment would be offered to patients alongside their chemotherapy sessions, but experts hope that in the future they wouldn't have to use chemotherapy at all. Professor Hawkins still needs at least £250,000 through the Christie Appeal to pay for nurses with specialist training, research doctors and laboratory monitoring equipment for engineering the cells.