Fiona Bruce launches new fundraising programme | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - November 2006

Fiona Bruce launches new fundraising programme

This is an exciting new programme dedicated to targeted funding of medical advances in three core areas — Touching Tiny Lives, Stopping Suffering in Children and Preventing the Pain of Chronic Diseases and Conditions.

Guests gathered at The Royal College of Surgeons in London to find out more about Action Partners and how, by donating a minimum of £5,000 per year for three years, they could be at the forefront of a medical breakthrough. A compelling speech from Fiona was followed by Professor John Duncan’s account of his pioneering work in epilepsy treatment at University College London. The Professor’s work has been supported by several Action Medical Research grants. Supporter Jenny Chambers also spoke, giving a moving account of the traumatic loss of two of her babies through pregnancy complications.

A history of breakthroughs Action Partners will have a direct impact on the success of the programme area they choose to fund. They will be kept abreast of the latest developments in the work they are funding, and will be among the first to know when a breakthrough has been made.

And at Action Medical Research, breakthroughs are something of a speciality. As well as helping some well-established medical practices, such as ultrasound scanning in pregnancy and the hip replacement operation, to come to fruition, we are also responsible for many more recent advancements, like those made by Professor John Duncan in the treatment of epilepsy.

A cure for epilepsy Professor Duncan and his team have received a series of grants which have enabled them to develop new ways of taking MRI scans of the brain, pinpointing the area where epileptic seizures are being generated. This marks groundbreaking progress because it means that patients with otherwise untreatable epileptic seizures could now undergo surgery to remove the abnormal part of the brain, curing epilepsy and bringing an end to seizures in 60 to 70 per cent of cases.

Around 30,000 people develop epilepsy every year in the UK — that’s some 80 people every day. Most are shocked and scared when they experience their first seizure, which can come like a bolt from the blue. Sadly, around one third of patients with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite trying all suitable medications. If the drugs don’t work, the next option to consider is surgery. Professor Duncan, whose work was generously supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation, explains, “In the absence of any abnormality showing on the brain scans to help pinpoint the cause of epilepsy, the idea of surgical treatment is often very difficult to take further.” The new scanning methods reveal abnormalities that conventional MRI scans miss in approximately one third of epilepsy patients.

Professor Duncan continues, “It is very exciting to get a positive lead from the new forms of MRI scan, as these may result in an individual being able to have surgery that will rid them of epilepsy.

“The new MRI methods are now being taken up more widely and this is increasing the pick-up rate of abnormalities and facilitating earlier surgical treatment of those in whom modern medication is not effective.”

Be there at the breakthrough This is just one example of the type of breakthrough research that Action Partners can support. Partners are free to choose their level of involvement with the Charity and the research area they are supporting, from regular newsletters or making project visits, to dedicated reports or attending research presentations.

Action Partners really will make a difference. If you are interested in knowing more, and being there at the breakthrough, please contact Toby Tennant on ttennant@action.org.uk or 01403 327436. TL

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