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Alex gets behind the microscope at Breast Cancer Now research fair in Parliament

Local MP Alex Cunningham joined the search for new life-saving breast cancer treatments at a research fair in Parliament hosted by leading UK charity Breast Cancer Now on Wednesday 4th July.

The fair was an opportunity to meet the scientists behind the cutting-edge research which the charity hopes will ensure that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and live well.

Delving into the world of breast cancer research, MPs used a smartphone microscope to examine tissue samples, observed how tumour biopsies are taken, and took chemical taste tests, which showed how genetics can influence how the body functions.

At the event were world-leading scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research, London, Bart’s Cancer Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Manchester and the University of Edinburgh, who gave interactive demonstrations of how their innovative research – funded by Breast Cancer Now – aims to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.

During the drop-in, Alex also learned about the work of the landmark Breast Cancer Now Generations Study, which is following more than 113,000 women in the UK over 40 years, to help pinpoint the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Set up in 2004 to help understand the causes of breast cancer, the project has since resulted in several major discoveries, including the identification of more than 160 common genetic changes associated with the development of breast cancer, and recently that higher BMI at a younger age is associated with a lower premenopausal breast cancer risk.

Alex also spoke to researchers about the importance of the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank – the UK’s largest unique collection of high-quality breast tissue, breast cells and blood samples from breast cancer patients.

Every year, around 55,000 women and around 350 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly around 11,500 still lose their lives to the disease each year.

Alex Cunningham MP for Stockton North, said:

“It was fantastic to hear from the scientists first-hand about the diverse ways in which they are tackling breast cancer, and to know that research efforts are in full force throughout the UK is incredibly heartening.

“Having heard about the great strides made by Breast Cancer Now scientists, it is clear that their pioneering research will play a huge part in improving outcomes for those with breast cancer in Stockton North, and will hopefully help us prevent the disease taking more lives in the future.”

Dr Simon Vincent, Director of Research at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“We were thrilled to welcome Alex Cunningham MP to meet with our world-leading scientists, and showcase the ground-breaking research that our supporters in Stockton North are making possible.

“Breast cancer is still taking lives on a heart-breaking scale, but thanks to research carried out by Breast Cancer Now scientists across the UK, we understand more about the disease – and how to treat it – than ever before.

“It’s vital that we continue to fund innovative projects – like those demonstrated at the research fair – if we are to reach our goal, that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer lives, and lives well.”

Breast Cancer Now thanks principal funder M&S, as well as The Doris Field Charitable Trust and The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, for their generous support of the Breast Cancer Now Generations Study.

The Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank is generously supported by funding from Asda’s Tickled Pink, a founding partner of the Bank alongside Walk the Walk.