Kidscan is a national charity based at Salford University. Quays Life meets its Chief Executive, Bob Carter to find out more about its work promoting research into new and improved treatments for children with cancer.
What is the work of Kidscan charity?
“In short, we are one of a small number of charities in the UK, solely dedicated to combating children’s cancer. We fund and manage research into new and improved treatments for children with cancer. The charity is 17-years-old, set up by a group of medical scientists who were concerned that research into the life-threatening issue of children’s cancers was not improving at the rate they felt it should.
“We receive no statutory funding, but with the contributions from the public, volunteers and businesses we fund research to develop new treatments that not only cure children with cancer but also prevent the side effects of current treatments such as learning difficulties, mobility issues and infertility”.
What is its connection to Salford University?
“People are sometimes surprised to learn that there is a lab at Salford University, headed by Professor David Pye dedicated to the charity’s research. Since we launched in 2002, Kidscan has funded over 50 research projects and a development of one treatment is currently undergoing pre-clinical evaluation.
“The University also hosts our offices and supports us on many different operational aspects involving staff and students on all levels”.
What developments have been enabled because of Kidscan?
“Our development of a treatment obtained from complex sugars derived from Irish Sea shellfish is currently undergoing preclinical evaluation. A new drug designed and synthesised by University of Salford scientists supported by Kidscan has helped to discover a way of allowing healthy cells to take charge of cancerous cells, stopping them developing into tumours. This could provide a new approach to treating early-stage cancers. Researchers at Salford and the University of Manchester found that a special type of the chemicals known as ‘kinase inhibitors’ opened up communication channels on the surface of cells, enabling healthy cells to ‘talk’ to the cancer cells and make them behave like normal healthy cells.
“We have also shown that manipulation of the amino acid Methionine in the blood can affect the proliferation of cancer cells. It was found that depletion of Methionine made the cancer cells more resistant to the clinically-used anticancer drugs Cisplatinum and Temozolamide, indicating that modulation of Methionine may be damaging when used in combination with these drugs”.
What does your role as CEO of the charity involve?
“My role is to forge partnerships with individuals, businesses, companies, other charities and voluntary organisations and to lead our great Kidscan team, where together, we can enable more research to be funded in order to develop treatments that are less damaging to the bodies of children and young adults.
“Over the past three months I have had the opportunity to take a number of our corporate and individual supporters to see the laboratory and supporters or would be supporters are able to find out for themselves about the ground-breaking research happening here in Salford”.
What was your background before joining the charity?
“I joined the charity in January 2019. My professional life began in print media, where I progressed to senior management positions with a number of major regional evening newspapers. In the early 90’s I moved to the charitable sector as Chief Executive of the Greater Manchester Youth Games attracting the highest attendance of International Olympic Committee Members to a youth event. Since then I have led many charitable organisations including Greater Manchester Community Foundation, and the International Variety Club Children’s Charity in the North West”.
How can people get involved and or support the charity?
“Whether we are working alongside a large corporate organisation such as Squires Patton Boggs or a local business or individual we believe we are all in this together and so we work to find the best way we can assist Kidscan supporters’ efforts. Whether a company chooses us as charity of the year, a business agrees to take one of our collecting tins or organises a coffee morning we are delighted to help. For instance, recently Lime Bar at Salford Quays held a coffee morning for us. No idea or support is too small or too big – we can customise any initiative to suit any person or occasion”.
For more details about Kidscan visit www.kidscan.org.uk or for an informal chat about how you can get involved call Bob on 0161 295 3864.