Blood Cancer: Collaboration is the Key to a Cure

I occasionally share charity posts FOC on my blog if the charity is something I support & believe in. I believe blood cancer certainly needs more awareness so have shared this post today for you all. I have not been compensated for this.

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We’ve all heard the saying ‘it’s amazing what we can accomplish when we work together’, and blood cancer charity Bloodwise is proof that this approach can lead to incredible things. They have made phenomenal breakthroughs in treating blood cancer’s many forms, and they are proof that a collaborative attitude can change the world.

When the Eastwood family tragically lost daughter Susan at 6 years old to leukaemia, they decided to set up a blood cancer research charity in the hope that one day, no family would have to suffer the same loss. 50 years on, that charity is still working tirelessly to fund vital research, raise awareness, and offer invaluable support and advice to blood cancer patients and their families.

What is blood cancer?

To fully comprehend the importance of the work that Bloodwise does, we need to understand the role of blood in the human body. Blood is a liquid made of blood cells and plasma – the primary function of which is to transport nutrients, hormones, oxygen and waste around the body. Not only that, our blood also keeps us warm and cools us down, as well as protects us from disease.  If we cut ourselves, the platelets in our blood clot, which prevents us from losing a fatal amount of blood. At the same time, our bone marrow produces stem cells which allows the body to produce more blood after the existing blood cells have died.

So what is blood cancer? There are actually many different types that affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system. The three main groups of blood cancer are leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and they’re probably much more common than you think. Blood cancer is the fifth most common kind of cancer and the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. That means more people die from blood cancer every year than from breast or prostate cancer.

How is Bloodwise working with the healthcare industry to tackle all kinds of blood cancer?

Since they began, Bloodwise has invested over £500million in research, and the results have had a huge impact in the way blood cancer is diagnosed and treated. But they haven’t been able to do it alone; collaboration with the wider healthcare industry has been instrumental in achieving success.

Working with the NHS

The work Bloodwise does is of course closely linked to the NHS, and funding data collection is just one of the ways the two organisations work together. The Haematological Malignancy Research Network (HMRN) and researchers from the University of York work with 14 hospitals and a diagnostic service in Yorkshire to gather extensive data on people diagnosed with blood cancer. This data is made up of information on how patients are diagnosed and their treatment, and their lifestyle and socio-economic status. By combining such huge amounts of data, Bloodwise can identify specific areas in which they need to invest more in. Once they know what the problems are, they can start to find solutions.

In addition to this, Bloodwise works with the NHS Cancer Clinical Research Network through their Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) to streamline clinical trials involving blood cancer treatment. This programme means clinical trials for blood cancer are managed efficiently, thanks to a centralised hub which handles the organisation and administration involved in setting up and running a clinical trial.

Working with pharmaceutical companies

Bloodwise has also worked with the companies that manufacture and market treatments through these TAP trials. Pharmaceutical companies have provided £90 million worth of drugs for use in these so they can fast track the journey from lab to patient.

It’s Bloodwise’s research that lays the groundwork for the development of these new drugs and then through their partnerships with the pharmaceutical companies they’re able to make these available to patients.

Working with other charities

In 2014 Bloodwise joined up with 6 other health research charities to form the Charity Open Access Fund. The aim of this partnership was to allow free and unrestricted access to published research so that anyone researching a cure would have immediate access to the most up-to-date information. The fund means knowledge is shared more widely, at a faster rate, and could lead to vital breakthroughs.

Thankfully, today’s prognosis for patients diagnosed with blood cancer is much more positive than it was when the Eastwood family started the charity over 50 years ago. It is thanks to the tireless research and collaborative efforts of charities like Bloodwise, the NHS, and the wider healthcare industry that survival rates have much improved, and that we are closer than ever to finding a cure. It really is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together…

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