in 2019 really has been a bumper year for CHECT research. We were delighted by the strength of applications to our 2019/20 research fund – so much so, that we ended up making two awards rather one.

The first project, led by Professor Lako of Newcastle University, is developing human lab models of retinoblastoma (Rb) which can be used to test current and future chemotherapy drugs in order to assess their impact on healthy, surrounding cells (and so minimise damage to vision from treatments such as IAC).

The second, led by Professor Berry from the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is looking at whether liquid biopsies (useful in Rb where a normal biopsy is only possible after enucleation) are possible using blood rather than fluid (aqueous humour) from the eye. It has already been proved that liquid biopsies can be carried out using aqueous humour from the eye, but if it were possible to use a blood sample instead, this would obviously be a much less invasive procedure.

“CHECT is so well respected for the tireless work they do to make the lives of Rb patients better. I am proud to play a part in that mission.” – Professor Berry Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Alongside this project funding, we are also excited to be offering a PhD grant for the first time in many years. Dr Bob Phillips from York University will be overseeing the project, which aims to develop a resource to support teenagers and young adults with Rb to help manage the psychological and social challenges they may face as they move into adulthood. The PhD student will start the research in October 2020 – but we very much hope they will be able to attend the members’ weekend in September as it would be a wonderful way to start their study.

In addition to these new projects, CHECT is pleased to have secured Stage 2 funding from the Greendale Foundation for the Eloise Patterson project. Using historical Rb records the group aims to calculate statistical estimates of the risks of second cancers linked to certain genetic mutations, in the hope that this will potentially lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of these second cancers.

On a different note, some of you may remember that earlier in the year we asked for volunteers to join our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) as lay parent members. We were delighted to welcome our two new members, Pippa Branch and James Morley-Smith to our November meeting and know they will provide important real life input to the SAC.

As always, our thanks go to all the members of the SAC who volunteer their time to make CHECT’s research programme possible, and support our hope to improve the lives of everyone affected by Rb in the future.

To read more about all CHECT research, past and current, visit chect.org.uk/research.