The Team Members
The Heads Up Team
Changing the face of Head & Neck Cancer.
A diagnosis of cancer of the mouth, tongue,nose or throat is devastating news. Treatments, which may include invasive surgery, plastic surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, often seriously alter how patients look, speak, taste and swallow, thus denying them the basic pleasures of life that most take for granted.
Many years of smoking and alcohol consumption once accounted for a significant majority of our patients, and whilst the elderly are still over-represented, we are now facing a fresh challenge as up to 30% comprise the under-fifties, many of whom have never smoked or ingested large quantities of alcohol. We do not understand the reasons for this change in the pattern of the disease. Only by learning more can we find ways to prevent this disease and develop treatments that will cure more people with fewer life-changing side effects.
Heads Up is a charitable fund that targets its work solely on head and neck cancer. Based at Oxford University Hospital’s Cancer Centre, where a large number of head and neck cancer patients are treated, we are well-placed to learn more about this group of diseases.
Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, Heads Up has already raised £500,000 of seed funding for a head and neck cancer research project studying cellular mechanisms. The project team, managed by Dr Stephan Feller at Oxford University, is currently participating in an Oxford-based multidisciplinary phase 1 clinical trial.
Since 2012, Heads Up has funded a molecular pathway research project led by Dr Oliver Dale, a surgeon and researcher. Dr Dale’s research focuses on a receptor called IGF-IR, which is found on the surface of head and neck cancer cells. He has so far been able to show that the growth rate of cancer cells is slowed significantly when the IGF-IR is blocked.
We are now fundraising for the next part of Dr Dale’s research, which hopes to concentrate on identifying ‘biomarkers’ that predict which cancers will respond to treatment and which will not. To find out more about Dr Dale’s work, please read his posts online at: www.facebook.com/headsupoxford.