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April Research Update

Last week we wrote a cheque for £35,966.17 to Newcastle University to pay for the fourth and final year of our second PhD Studentship there. In total this Studentship has cost £139,473.26 - a huge amount for a small charity, and only made possible by our fantastic volunteers and supporters. What vital work this is in the long road towards gentler treatments and cures for childhood cancer, and how proud we are to be part of paving the way. Our next step is to employ a technician at Newcastle University, fundraising for which began at our fundraising dinner in November. For now our focus is on supporting childhood oncology families through the Covid 19 crisis, but we look forward to when we can get back to prioritising this vital research. Any donations made specifically for research will always be kept safely in the restricted research fund. Here is an update from our current PhD student, Emma Lishman Walker - "Once again thank you very much for inviting us to the LoveOliver Dinner Dance it was a great experience for us and we trust a lot of fun for everyone involved. As is the case for everyone, the Covid-19 outbreak has had an impact upon the Brain Tumour Group at Newcastle University. Unfortunately all lab-based activities have had to be stopped and we are now working from home; this is of course very dissapointing and something we are all still getting used to! Whilst this is not ideal we have been very proactive and found creative ways to keep my research going and my project on track. I have been able to bring forward a lot of computer-based analysis of previously generated genomic data that I had intended to do later in my PhD and this is for the minute occupying me completely.

"So far this year my focus pre-lockdown has really been in the lab to generate some further novel datasets. I have sent samples for Next Generation Sequencing so we can begin to understand the some of the changes that occur in Medulloblastoma patients. I have also been continuing to test the CRISPR tools which really underpin the project we are continuing on from Matt Selby; our previous LoveOliver PhD student. All of the Rhabdoid tumour specific therapeutic targets we wish to deploy these tools against have now been identified and so as soon as the lab opens again I will quickly pick up investigating these.

"My area of interest continues to be how disrupted DNA regulatory mechanisms contribute to childhood cancer. One of my latest ideas is to try some new and exciting analysis called “chromatin conformation capture” that has not yet been attempted in Rhabdoid Tumours. This will tell me how chromosomes bend, fold and interact within tumour cells. Basically, I will delve deeper into how the regulatory elements of tumours differ from healthy normal cells and how this could be counteracted with novel therapies."

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