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Alcatel-Lucent staff make unusual donation to aid research

30 November 2012

On 26 November, more than 50 member of staff at Greenwich-based communications technology company Alcatel-Lucent lined up to make a rather unorthodox donation to help our efforts to find an early diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer – their urine.

Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund has been Alcatel-Lucent’s 2012 charity of the year, a commitment made in fond memory of their much-loved and respected colleague Derek Willetts, who sadly died of the disease.  The company has already raised many thousands of pounds for us to channel into cutting-edge research projects that will help find new treatments for pancreatic cancer, but it seems there’s no limit to their generosity!

More than fifty people responded to the call to ‘Pee for PCRF’,  donating their urine and blood at a special collection day, overseen by PCRF researcher Dr Darren Ennis from Barts Cancer Institute. Dr Ennis reported that “the day went splendidly, running like a well-oiled machine”, with special thanks to  Alcatel-Lucent’s occupational health nurse, who was “absolutely brilliant”.

Dr Ennis is part of a PCRF-funded project led by DrTatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic that is working to develop an early diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer – something that could potentially save many lives by ensuring earlier treatment for those diagnosed.  This work involves the detection of biomarkers in blood or urine that are universal to those in the early stages of the disease.

To progress this research, the research team needs a large bank of “normal” samples from healthy people over 40 years of age to compare their research findings against, hence the request to Alcatel-Lucent staff.

Says PCRF founder and CEO, Maggie Blanks: “When I spoke to Derek’s wife, Hazel, about the campaign, she laughed and said that a request to support research in this way would definitely have appealed to Derek, because of his background in statistical analysis and love of all things scientific!”

“I’d like to sincerely thank all those who took part in what might seem an unusually direct contribution to pancreatic cancer research, but one that’s highly valuable nonetheless!”

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