Bring Your Bear is a tremendously
important event for us. It gives everyone
the chance to celebrate Paddington’s
birthday and raise vital funds through
having loads of fun. It’s also a lovely way
to unwind at the end of term!
Around 2 million people in the UK have Dupuytren’s disease,
an abnormal thickening of the tissues below the skin in the
fingers and palm of the hand. Cords and nodules form, causing
discomfort.The cords gradually contract, meaning the fingers —
often the little finger and the ring finger — bend into the palm.
Osteoporosis affects one in two women
and one in five men over the age of 50
in the UK. It causes a reduction in bone
density resulting in an increased risk of
bone fractures in anyone suffering from
the condition. When the spine is affected,
osteoporotic fractures may cause chronic
pain and deformity — the characteristic
‘dowager’s hump’ — as the fractured
vertebrae change shape, causing the
spine to become more curved.
Tendonitis — when the tendon becomes
inflamed — is not a well understood
condition, even though it affects many
thousands of people each year. Progress is
being made though. A little-known family
of enzymes could hold a key to unlocking
some of the mystery of tendon diseases,
and funding from Action Medical
Research has been the launch pad for a
valuable laboratory-based study.
On Sunday 24 June over 1000
cyclists set off from the small highland
town of Pitlochry into the surrounding
hills on either a 25 or 83 mile route.
Amongst the Action Medical Research
team of 100 cyclists were two of our
researchers, Dr Mark Mon-Williams and
Professor Jane Norman.
As part of its
continued support for
Action Medical Research,Avanti
Systems was proud to be among the
first companies to become Action
Partners.The business is the largest
privately-owned partitioning specialist in
the UK and has raised £50,000 for the
Touching Tiny Lives campaign over the
last three years via the company’s highly
successful annual golf days.This year’s
event in July was no exception.
Dr Mark Mon-Williams (whose
robot therapy research in Aberdeen is
helping children with movement
coordination problems) took the bold
step of signing up for the 83 mile
challenge. Scottish TV interviewed him
about his research and his training for
the event. Professor Jane Norman,
based at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary, was
also interviewed about the event in her
Cartilage is a structural material used
throughout the body and can be thought
of as like bone but without the mineral
content. One kind gives rigidity to the
external ear; there it behaves like a stiff
rubbery substance composed largely of
strands of a protein called collagen
(incidentally, collagen, when it is boiled,
becomes old-fashioned glue, and when
purified, gelatine). If the ear is frequently
damaged, for example in boxing, the
cartilage is robbed of its blood supply
and so deteriorates and curls up,
resulting in ‘cauliflower ear’.
Featured in the Spring issue of
Touching Lives, Caroline, from Southend
on Sea, suffered from debilitating
epilepsy for more than 30 years. As well
as coping with weekly seizures, she also
had to deal with the side-effects of
taking a range of medications to try and
control her condition.
Ultrasound scanning in pregnancy, pioneered with funding
from Action Medical Research, has been relied on for over 30
years to provide valuable information on the state of health of
unborn babies in the womb.
About 1,500 people each year in the UK are diagnosed with
motor neurone disease (MND). Many die within just 5 years,
after progressively losing control of their speech, swallowing
and breathing, and there is no cure.
Researchers funded by Action Medical Research are
investigating how nerve cells try to recover from the
destruction caused by this cruel disease, in the hope of
identifying possible future treatments.
Oxygen deprivation at birth can cause
brain injury. However the damage may
be influenced by other factors, such as
infection. Dr Kendall has been studying
how infection affects the degree of
damage and hence the eventual
disability. His laboratory research has
shown that an infection-like stimulus
causes a cascade of changes in
chemicals within brain tissue and blood
vessels.This appears to make the brain
more sensitive to a lack of oxygen
during labour and delivery, which in turn
could put a baby at greater risk.
Meningitis and septicaemia are feared by health professionals
worldwide. Both illnesses can kill in a matter of hours, or result
in devastating disability, and the majority of cases occur in
childhood. Dr Manish Sadarangani is using an Action Medical
Research grant to focus on Neisseria meningitidis, the
dangerous bacterium responsible for meningitis and
septicaemia. N. meningitidis kills more children in the UK than
any other infection — one in ten of those infected die.
Survivors can be left with permanent complications, like
deafness, epilepsy and learning disabilities.
For many thousands of couples, having a
baby will be far from easy and may end
in tragedy, particularly if labour occurs
prematurely. Not only will many babies
spend a life-time coping with possible
long-term effects of having been born
too soon, but some will die and doctors
may not be able to tell their parents
why the pregnancy ended abruptly.
Not knowing why something bad
happens can be almost as painful as the
The UK is experiencing an epidemic of liver disease, with
death rates from cirrhosis increasing dramatically over the last
30 years. Many different things can put people at risk, including
hepatitis C, drinking too much alcohol, inherited liver disorders
and certain cancers.
In this fellowship, Dr Ben Underwood is focusing on ways to
delay the onset of Huntington’s disease, a devastating inherited
condition.Typically, sufferers die in middle age after enduring a
15-year deterioration in their physical and mental well-being.
The first symptoms of Huntington’s disease, which include
subtle changes in personality or mood, and occasional jerks or
spasms, normally begin around age 40. Sufferers gradually
become increasingly disabled, and eventually have to give up
work.They lose the ability to walk.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD), also
known as attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), is one of the most
common childhood-onset behavioural
disorders. Often referred to as
‘hyperactivity’, ADHD refers to a range
of problem behaviours relating to poor
attention span, which often prevent
children from learning or socialising well.
ADHD shouldn’t, however, be confused
with normal boisterous or exuberant
Action Medical Research has
awarded a grant to fund a two year
study into the causes of
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Dr Rachel Cooney aims
to boost our understanding of the causes of inflammatory
bowel disease by looking for faulty genes.
Why did you decide to give to charity at this time?
I was born in June 1907. A centenary is
a very special occasion to celebrate, and
it was most important to me to honour
my late wife’s memory. I decided to ask
friends and family to mark my 100th
birthday by making donations to Action
Medical Research in commemoration of
my dear departed wife, Peggie.