Which treatment or diagnostic would make a patient’s life better? This is the starting point of what MRC Technology does. Like other medical research charities, we exist to improve patients’ lives, but unlike them, we don’t focus on a specific disease but work across a range of diseases.
Many charities are doing tremendous work to support patients and fund research into potential treatments. If we work together, we can create a much bigger wave towards positive change. MRC Technology has used a collaborative approach successfully to progress research into some of our most pressing health needs – dementia, cancer and neurodegenerative disease.
Recently we launched Kids Cancer – Act Now, a campaign to find treatments for childhood cancer. There is a desperate need – every year in the UK 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer, and 300 die from it. We believe there is research out there that could make a difference. By joining forces with other charities, we can identify promising research and develop it further, to the point where a pharmaceutical company would be interested in taking it on.
Respiratory diseases affect millions of people every year. Bringing two charities (Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation) and a pharmaceutical company (AstraZeneca) together means we get the patient perspective and we can focus on what will help them. We are now investigating how lifestyle and other factors affect the body through changes in gene expression, and whether there is a link to respiratory disease. Once we understand this, we can work on finding appropriate treatments to help patients.
With 700 000 deaths a year from antimicrobial resistance, this is another important area desperately in need of new medicines. Pharmaceutical companies cannot tackle this on their own. If charities and research organisations work together we can help push promising research towards new treatments. By combining resources we can fund new research or work with pharmaceutical companies to identify promising research that exists already. It could be that this research has just not progressed because of strategic reasons (pharma prioritising alternative treatments), and we can find incentives to progress it towards clinical trial.
We need to act now to steer promising science towards patient benefit.
by Mike Johnson