Two Kenilworth scientists whose pioneering cancer treatment has now been approved for trials will be celebrating their achievement this weekend.
Dr John and Dr Sarah Maudsley, of Common Lane, who have been researching a possible ‘cancer vaccine’ for the last 20 years, will be having a tea party with their family, friends and all those who have helped them get to this point on Sunday August 20.
If successful, it is hoped their treatment will be used as a form of immunotherapy for those with late-stage pancreatic cancer, and will hopefully increase survival rates.
When the news came that their treatment was approved for human trials, Sarah said they felt ‘relief mixed with exhaustion.’
She added: “It’s taken a long time. If I had realised at the beginning how long it was going to take I would have run for the hills.”
The only current treatments for pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease, is surgery or chemotherapy.
Around 20 years ago, John came up with the idea of injecting foreign cancer cells into patients to allow their immune systems to develop a strong immune response to the molecular ‘markers’ on the cells.
Then, when new cancer cells form in patients bodies, their immune systems target the markers and destroy the cells.
Before it could be trialled on humans, the treatment first had to have a feasibility study, then had to be manufactured, and approved by three different ethical bodies. All of this took a lot of time and money.
The couple worked ‘almost every hour of every day’ on their project while raising four children, meaning they needed a lot of financial support.
They received funds from a variety of sources to help them, such as charities like Cancer Research UK and Cancer Vaccines Charitable Trust, which is strongly supported by many in Kenilworth.
But they particularly wanted to thank a Kenilworth charity - the William Edwards Education Charity - for helping to fund their children’s schooling.
Sarah said: “We had four kids and no real source of income. They provide funding for anything to do with education of Kenilworth children right up until university.
“Our kids were between seven and 13 when we started, so there were a lot of things that needed paying for.”
Now the trial has been approved and the first patient has been treated, John and Sarah hope the treatment will be successful.
The couple is testing four different doses of the vaccine on patients with late-stage pancreatic cancer and patients with other forms of late-stage cancers.
Once the results of trial are known, it will need to pass a ‘Phase 3’ trial run by a pharmaceutical company before the treatment can be widely used.
John said: “We’ll wait and see what happens, but the science has all the characteristics that will maximise the probability of it being a success. But until you try it, you don’t know.”
They are also looking forward to their tea party, and said it was a way to thank everyone who supported them over the years.
To find out more about the trial, click here.