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Cancer charity launches £5m appeal for pioneering research

05 Mar 2010

Breakthrough Breast Cancer has launched a £5 million appeal for its pioneering Research Unit at The University of Manchester which aims to find new treatments for breast cancer patients.

The Appeal was launched last night (Thursday) by Maurice Watkins, Director of Manchester United FC, and the Research Unit’s Director, Professor Anthony Howell, in an event at Manchester Town Hall.

The Manchester Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit brings together a team of world-class scientists. They aim to find treatments that work in a totally new way – by stopping cancer cells using healthy cells to grow and spread. The Research Unit has been set up with an initial £500,000 donation but money is needed to support this groundbreaking project over the next five years.

Maurice Watkins, Chair of the fundraising board, said: “With around 5,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the North West each year it is vital that new lifesaving treatments are found. We have a great opportunity to make a huge impact, both nationally and internationally, in the fight against the disease, but we need your support to make this happen.

“Whatever you can give, whatever fundraising you can do, your support will help us to remove the fear of breast cancer for good.”

Mother-of-two Emma Barnes, 34, from Tameside, Greater Manchester, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 27 and treated at the Christie Hospital. She was then diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2005. She has since benefited from the lifesaving treatment, Herceptin, and five years on her disease remains under control.

Emma said: “I feel lucky to have had the best advice and treatment. I’ve had five years of good health and been able to see my children grow up. Without Herceptin I wouldn’t be here today, which is why I’m supporting this appeal to help find new treatments.”

The Research Unit has been set up by Breakthrough Breast Cancer in partnership with The University of Manchester because of the University’s leading reputation for cancer research. It is based within the Manchester Cancer Research Centre in the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research and is adjacent to the Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Under the directorship of Professor Howell and leading breast surgeon Professor Nigel Bundred, the scientists and doctors will be looking at how cancer cells use healthy cells to survive and grow. Four team leaders have been appointed – from prestigious research institutions in the US and Sweden – to carry forward this ambitious project. The Manchester team intends to tackle this key problem by finding treatments which stop this interaction taking place. The potential treatments would mean breast cancer patients are treated more effectively and would be an important step towards personalised treatment for all.

Professor Howell said: “New treatments have helped increase the number of women surviving breast cancer but the sad truth is that nearly 12,000 women die of the disease in the UK each year. That’s why we have set up this Research Unit to find treatments which could potentially be used for breast cancer and many other types of cancer.

“With the range of talent we have, we are in a great position to get our results from the laboratory to patients in the clinic as quickly as possible. With the public’s support, I’m confident that we can help save the lives of women with breast cancer.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, added: “We are calling on people from across the North West to support this unique research project. Whether it is £10 or £10,000, whatever you give or raise will help. Whether it’s holding a coffee morning at home, a quiz night with work colleagues or a fancy dress ball, everyone can play a part in defeating breast cancer.”

To find out how to help Breakthrough Breast Cancer reach its £5m target or call0207 025 2400.


Notes for editors

Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit at The University of Manchester:

The Research Unit was set up using a £500,000 donation from Albert Gubay, a businessman from the Isle of Man. To support the work of the Research Unit for the next five years, £5m is needed.

The Research Unit is led by two directors, Professor Anthony Howell and Professor Nigel Bundred. Both men have played an important role in helping Manchester become internationally recognised as a centre of breast cancer research of the highest quality.

The Appeal Board:

Maurice Watkins, Chair
Maurice is a Director of Manchester United FC. He is Joint Senior Partner of Brabners Chaffe Street LLP Solicitors in Manchester. He has previously chaired a successful £20million appeal for the New Children’s Hospital in Manchester.

Appeal Board members: Judy Atchison, Trustee of Breakthrough Breast Cancer since 1997; Chris Barr; an international property investor based on the Isle of Man; Edith Conn OBE, former High Sheriff of Greater Manchester; Harry Keogh, Chairman of the Managing Partners, Coutts UK.; David Marsden, solicitor; Susie Mathis,former singer, actress and radio presenter; Sir David Richards, Chairman of the Premier League; Paul Rose, partner at Halliwells Commercial Law Firm in Manchester.

Research Unit Directors and advisors to the Board:

Professor Anthony Howell
Professor Howell has worked in breast cancer research for many years and has helped take several lifesaving treatments, including Herceptin, from the lab into use for women across the UK.

Professor Nigel Bundred
Nigel Bundred is Professor of Surgical Oncology at The University of Manchester. He is a breast surgeon who also carries out lab research into breast cancer. His work includes looking at how the disease develops in its earliest stages.

About Breakthrough Breast Cancer:

  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer is a pioneering charity dedicated to the prevention, treatment and ultimate eradication of breast cancer. We fight on three fronts: research, campaigning and education.
  • We fund ground-breaking research, campaign for better services and treatments and raise awareness of breast cancer. Through this work the charity believes passionately that breast cancer can be beaten and the fear of the disease removed for good. Find more information at

About breast cancer:

  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK – nearly 46,000 women and around 300 men are diagnosed every year.
  • Around 5,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the North West each year
  • Breast cancer accounts for nearly 1 in 3 of all female cancers and one in nine women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 1,000 women die of breast cancer every month in the UK.
  • Groundbreaking breast cancer research has increased survival rates from five out of 10 in the 1970s to eight out of 10 today.

Media enquiries to:

Richard Purnell
Senior PR Officer
Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Tel: 020 7025 0290
Mob: 07778 682001

Or Aeron Haworth
Media Relations
Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8383
Mob: 07717 881563