The weekend of the 13th & 14th May, 2017 saw a team of Featherstone Lodge members, their wives, partners, sons and daughters and friends, successfully complete the Welsh 3 peaks challenge in aid of the Prostate Cancer Research Charity held this year in Memory of the events founder and patron Matt Rannamets (1946 – 2016).
Part of the Featherstone team at the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge Finish Tent
After travelling to South Wales and relaxing for the Friday evening at the Castle hotel in Merthyr Tydvil, the team made their way to the Brecon Beacons at 03:30 on Saturday morning.
Following a couple of late registrations, the team set off Eastwards into the darkness towards the Pen Y Fan Summit a little before 04:30, reaching the mist covered summit a couple of hours later.
The mission of the prostate cancer research centre is to develop new therapies for men with advanced prostate cancer. The immediate goal is to increase survival and the vision is for a cure for the disease.
The PCRC is the only charity solely focussed on funding world class scientists developing new treatments for advanced prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men with over 11,000 dying each year in the United Kingdom and this number currently increases year on year.
The Featherstone team at the summit of Pen Y Fan 13.05.2017
Although visibility was poor, the mists began to clear on the descent with the surrounding hillsides coming into view half way down with the help of the newly risen sun.
The journey to the 2nd mountain, Cadair Idris, took around 3 hours including a breakfast stop at the little chef restaurant at Builth Wells, Llanfair-ym-Mualt.
Cadair Idris is the second tallest mountain Wales with an elevation of 893m and a variety of landscapes and terrain with a mountain lake within its bowl. It is both beautiful and challenging; the ascent and descent take trekkers 6.5 miles along its elevated ridge line.
It took the majority of the team just under four hours to reach the summit with the younger members taking just over two hours. Good visibility enabled the team to view Cardigan bay and island whilst having a ten minute lunch break before tackling the push to the summit.
The summit of Cadair Idris 13.05.2017
Two and a half hours later, the team reached the base of Cadair Idris after a descent which followed a fence line down a steep incline over ever changing and torturous terrain.
Sunday arrived. The alarm went off at a far more respectable time compared to Saturday. Getting out of bed was a struggle, however, after a hearty breakfast the team headed to the base of Mount Snowdon via coach. Once again, the summit was not visible from the starting point, it was hiding round the corner of another peak!
The team began to think that hiding the summits was organised on purpose to stop people giving up at the start !
Following the Pyg trail (the slightly harder route than the miners trail as we were attempting the 3 peaks challenge after all), single file up the path.
After an hour or so, we rounded a corner to be presented with a view of the summit. Wow!
We looked at the zig-zag trail that we could see in the distance heading up the side of the mountain and we hoped that we would all have the strength to complete the climb to the summit and of course to view the beauty of the surrounding area that we were in. The mountain weather closed in with a mixture of bright sun shine, hailstones and rain.
Fortunately the rain and hail stones didn’t last for long, but the winds did pick up and the temperature dropped. The team kept marching on, each carefully measured step after the former, climbing over rocks and trying very hard not to slip and fall.
We made it! The summit of Snowdon had been conquered by team Featherstone.
We gathered round for a team photo on a wet, windy and cold summit. Elated that we had completed the climb, but a little disappointed that with the low clouds, again visibility was not good. So, we headed for the cafe.
The Featherstone team at the summit of Mount Snowdon 14.05.2017
After a warm drink and something to eat, feeling a little refreshed we headed out for the journey down. What a sight awaited us. The sun had risen, the clouds had moved on and the scenery was spectacular. We just needed to walk back down now!
Team Featherstone had conquered the 3 peaks of Wales.
And in the words of one of the teams younger members the challenge was “exhausting, strenuous, tiring but rewarding and exhilarating and all for a worthy cause”.
What is the prostate cancer research centre and what do they do ?
The Prostate Cancer Research Centre raises funds to support research for the development of new treatments to improve the survival of men with advanced prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. If a man lives long enough, he is likely to develop prostate cancer.
Every year in the UK about 45,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 11,000 die as a result of the disease. Every year the number of men dying of the disease increases.
Prostate cancer is curable while it is contained within the prostate. However, once it spreads outside the prostate it is known as advanced prostate cancer and is very difficult to treat.
The main treatment for advanced prostate cancer is hormone therapy, developed in the 1940s. Today hormone therapy is still the primary and most effective treatment for advanced prostate cancer, and consequently there has been little improvement in survival for over 70 years. That is why we are dedicated to developing new treatments.
The mission of the Prostate Cancer Research Centre is to improve the survival of men with advanced prostate cancer. Our vision is a cure for the next generation.
The prostate cancer research charity raises funds for prostate cancer research.
Because of the success of the three previous Horizon dinners, in 2014 the charity was able to make its largest ever commitment to research, £1.5 million over 5 years to develop immunotherapy for advanced prostate cancer.
The centre has three programmes of research, each with a different potential target against which to develop new therapy, as well as a group developing models. The three programmes focus on:
- The spread of prostate cancer
- Prostate cancer stem cells
- The immune system
- Spread of prostate cancer
It is the spread of prostate cancer that makes the difference between being cured and facing death. Consequently our first major grant was to study the spread of prostate cancer.
PCRC scientist Dr Magali Williamson discovered that mutations in a gene that controls cell movement are one of the most frequent mutations found in prostate cancer. Our scientific group in Cardiff have shown that the mutations accelerate the spread of prostate cancer.
Dr Williamson is now developing drugs to inhibit the effect of the mutations, in the hope of preventing spread or killing the cells that have spread.
- Prostate Cancer Stem Cells
Prostate cancer stem cells are a small fraction of the cancer that drive the growth and spread of the cancer. Potentially, if these cells could be targeted and killed, the cancer could be cured.
Dr Aamir Ahmed has discovered that the prostate cancer stem cells have much higher levels of a growth-promoting protein on their cell surface than normal prostate cells.
Dr Ahmed has discovered that drugs used for other medical conditions inhibit this protein and slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory. This discovery has been patented and , because the drugs are already being used in people, we hope that they can be tested for their effect on prostate cancers. While they would not be expected to cure prostate cancers, we hope that they will slow their growth.
- The Immune System
Immunotherapy is one of the great white hopes of cancer treatment – stimulating the man’s immune system so that it recognises the cancer cells as foreign and killing them.
Our immunotherapy group, led by Professor Prokar Dasgupta and Dr Christine Galustian at Kings College London, is using a combination approach. Cancer cells mask themselves with special proteins to make themselves invisible to the immune system – the cancer cells are being unmasked with antibodies. The immune system can be stimulated with other proteins called cytokines. The group is using a combination of unmasking proteins and cytokines to attack prostate cancer.
This approach is also being used by other groups, but is limited by toxicity and difficulty getting the therapy to the cancer cells. This is where the group have a big advantage – they are using a system patented by a colleague at KCL to stick the therapeutic molecules to the prostate cancer cells. This “tailing” method allows much higher concentrations of the therapeutic molecules to be administered to the cancer cells. Using this method, prostate cancers in mice have been cured. The group are now developing the method for clinical application.
Our scientific group in Cardiff has engineered transgenic mice that rapidly develop prostate cancer that spreads, so that the new therapies produced by the three groups funded by PCRC can be tested. These experimental models will be used by scientists worldwide for testing novel treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer.
The Cardiff group has used these models to show that the mutations identified by Dr Williamson accelerate the spread of prostate cancer.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ?
You can help the next generation being killed by prostate cancer by giving us a donation or remembering PCRC in your will and by spreading the word and telling your friends and colleagues about prostate cancer. It is because of you and your generosity that the research can be done.
Your money will be used to fund world class research. For example:
£60,000 will pay the cost of employing a full time qualified experienced scientist for one year
£30,000 will pay for the preclinical screening of a new therapy in the laboratory
£20,000 will pay the consumables costs for a scientist for one year
£10,000 will pay for a new fluorescence microscope for studying prostate cancer cells
£5000 will pay for a freezer to store chemicals at 800C below freezing
£1000 will pay the cost of sequencing an individual human genome
£100 will pay the cost of a bottle of nutrient (culture medium) for growing human prostate cancer cells
“Please help these world class scientists to improve the survival of the next generation of men with life threatening prostate cancer”. Professor John Masters CEO.
Donations can be made directly to the prostate cancer research centre charity or until the end of June 2017, through the Featherstone Lodge Welsh 3 Peaks Team page via the following link: