The ongoing Corvid-19 pandemic continues to present the underfunded NHS with two major problems for cancer patients. Health Services are both challenged to offer them the care and compassion they need and also to shield them from the heightened risk of life-threatening infection.
Research into cancer prevention and treatment has been halted, with clinical trials put on hold, while funding from charities, government grants and industry has been severely depleted both in the UK, Europe, USA and across the world, by the pandemic’s economic consequences.
The University of Manchester’s Viral Oncology Research Laboratories were also impacted since their space at Manchester’s St Mary’s Hospital was given over to Covid-19 clinical staff during the pandemic. There is light at the end of the tunnel however. They are now moving to palatial new premises in Kilburn House at Manchester’s nearby Science Park. Hopefully they will soon be back to work on research into the causes and prevention of both adult and children’s cancers with a new directive to investigate new uses for old drugs (So called “repurposing”) for this initiative.
The Viral Oncology group headed by Professor Ian Hampson has previously done this with the HIV drug Kaletra which is very shortly due to enter phase 2 clinical trials in Europe as a topical treatment for precancerous changes in the cervix.
Furthermore, Dr Xiaotong He from the group, has helped to develop a pioneering new method for analysing antibody repertoires from patients. This identifies anti-self antibodies (Autoimmune or Autoantibodies) in addition to infections encountered during an individual’s lifetime.
So far this has been done on children with Leukaemia (ALL) in the UK and the team are now working to analyse children from Mexico City with the same technique since it has one of the highest incidences of children’s leukaemia in the world.
A collaboration with this new method very recently showed that specific coronavirus antibodies were found in patients with the debilitating and cancer prone muscular disease myositis.
Antibodies against immunogenic epitopes with high sequence identity to SARS-CoV-2 in patients with autoimmune dermatomyositis
Covid-19 and Cancer Research