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LoveOliver December Newsletter

2021 has whizzed by with so many things for which we can be thankful here at LoveOliver.

The LoveOliver Shop in Glenrothes is going from strength to strength. We have been overwhelmed with everyone’s kindness, generosity and support. We have an amazing team of volunteers who make it all possible, and are delighted to have been able to employ a deputy shop manager already. Not only is the shop raising vital awareness and funds for childhood cancer, and providing a valuable service to the local community, but it is also an eco friendly approach to buying items for babies and children which is fantastic! If you haven’t visited yet we would love to see you - you can find us at 11 Lyon Square, Glenrothes, KY7 5NR on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 4pm. Please note we will be closing from Friday 24th December and not reopening until Saturday 8th January, in order to give our team a very well earned break.

I was very honoured to be invited as Jenny Gilruth MSP’s guest to the Opening of the Scottish Parliament in October, and to have the opportunity to shake hands with Prince Charles and tell him a little bit about LoveOliver. We are very appreciative of Jenny’s ongoing support for the charity. It was also very encouraging to have been asked back onto BBC Radio Scotland for a third time to speak about LoveOliver with presenter Nicola Meighan.

We continue to be really well supported by individuals and groups fundraising and donating - too many to mention but all very much appreciated. Virgin Money Giving closed on 30th November - we are very grateful for all the money that has been raised through that platform over the years, and we look forward to all that will be raised on our new online fundraising platform -

Our full time technician post at Newcastle University began on 1st July, and our second PhD student recently submitted her thesis. We will update you on both as time goes on, and have included a report from Dr Dan Williamson at the end of this newsletter. We feel very proud to be able to fund these projects to help fund much needed gentler treatments for childhood cancers, and ultimately, cures. We have recently met on Zoom with Dr Dan Williamson and Professor Steve Clifford to discuss future projects and possibilities too.

We are delighted to have a freezer now on the Lochranza kid’s oncology ward in the new Edinburgh hospital. We send weekly deliveries of COOK meals to keep the freezer stocked and to make healthy meals as accessible as possible for parents during hospital stays. We hope it won’t be long before we can do the same for Aberdeen and Glasgow. We continue to offer families staying in Young Lives Versus Cancer parent accommodation weekly orders too, and are delighted to be running our Christmas meals project for a third year - we have been overwhelmed by the generous response to this and are still trying to put in as many orders as possible before the big date.

As we look to 2022 we feel very privileged to announce that we have been offered a partnership in The Howat Hub in Edinburgh. This amazing facility has been formed through a collaboration between The Howat Foundation and Edinburgh-based childhood cancer charity, CCLASP. We are thankful for all the hard work of CCLASP’s founders, Val and Bill, in making the Hub a reality, and wish them very well in their retirement.

When the new management got in touch to ask if LoveOliver would like to run the cafe area of the Hub for Lochranza ward families, our trustees were delighted to visit, discuss and say a delighted YES! Situated just a short walk from the new Edinburgh Children’s Hospital, the Hub is in an ideal location for oncology families to use as a drop-in centre which will have a whole range of support services available. We are excited to have a new opportunity to provide meals for families, and look forward to working with the team at the Howat Foundation and CCLASP as we really get going with this new project in January. Watch this space and follow us on Facebook for more updates! LoveOliver at the Howat Hub is coming very soon!

As 2021 draws to a close we would like to say a massive thank you for everyone’s support in what has been an incredible year for LoveOliver, and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

With love from Andy, Jennifer and all at LoveOliver as we leave you with some encouraging words from Dr Dan Williamson from Newcastle University -

At the end of the year we wanted to give you an update. Our LoveOliver PhD student Emma Lishman-Walker has finished the monumental task of writing up her thesis now. She has handed in her work, breathes a small sigh of relief, and waits for a short time while her work is assessed by her examiners. She has her viva examination early in the new year and we expect to give you all a final report on Emma’s great work after that.

James our LoveOliver technician is settled in to his post and is really helping to grease the wheels of our research programme. It’s great to have someone with James’ knowledge and enthusiasm in the lab. James is the utility player in the lab, very adept at turning his hand to a variety of things which really helps to get things moving. In the last few months he has amongst other things: created a program to help analyse protein images, spent a lot of time on the microscope taking pictures of the nucleus of rhabdoid tumour cells and the effects of drug treatments, programmed a robot to deliver tiny amounts of thousands of different drugs to tumour cells taken directly from the patient (a kind of microscopic drug trial) and, as always seems the case, spent a lot of time in the lab encouraging tumour cells to grow.

We thought as we were approaching the end of the year this was a good time to reflect back on what has been achieved up to this point. We have been supported by LoveOliver for a number of years now; starting back when both our rhabdoid tumour research programme and LoveOliver was getting off the ground. Very early on even before LoveOliver began funding positions within our lab you began donating funds to help begin profiling patient samples tens of individuals at first but this was a key first step in showing what was possible and encouraging other funders, clinicians and scientists to support and collaborate in our work.

We wanted you to know that your support has been fruitful and will continue to have an impact. For example in 2020 we published, together with major research groups from around the world, a consensus paper which gave a first of it’s kind molecular definition of rhabdoid tumours. This is the lens through which the biology and possible treatments for future rhabdoid tumour patients will be interpreted. In 2020, again with the support of LoveOliver, we also published a paper describing the role of the immune system in rhabdoid tumours, showing that the presence of immune cells could alter their outcome and identifying patients who may benefit from potentially less damaging immune therapies. Throughout 2021 (and expected to publish in 2022) we have been working hard on analysing the molecular profiles of hundreds of rhabdoid tumours and linking these to the outcome of these patients. We think now that we can predict with good accuracy those patients for whom current treatment will be effective and those for whom alternative treatments are needed. This needs to be tested in a clinical trial and we are pleased to say that the first European trial in Rhabdoid tumours (within the central nervous system) opened this year and will soon be opening in the UK; our lab will be key to completing the associated biological studies. For those patients that require alternative treatments Emma and Matt’s (LoveOliver PhD students) work has provided a huge mass of data to inform these choices and there is a great deal of work still to come to bring this to fruition. Nevertheless, with your support we have come a long way from small beginnings and wanted to say thank you and of course Merry Christmas!


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