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RTD Patient Support Happy Hour; Next Meeting 3rd Feb at 6pm

Note for Happy Hour on 6th January 2021

We kicked the year off with our first Happy Hour – with three of our dedicated clinicians with us. We heard news directly from Dr Irene Chong, Professor Gina Brown and Dr Danni Browning, as well as receiving an update from Dr Sachdeva. I know how much we all value this direct contact with clinicians and thank all of them very much.

A big thank you to all who attended too – we had an insightful Happy Hour. We covered a lot – this is a summary:

RTD continues to be acknowledged for funding we made over the last couple of years:

Dr Chong told us that another research paper – this one on GI cancers – has been submitted that acknowledges RTD for our support of Dr Chong’s laboratory. She explained how tissue analysis, of fresh tissue, made possible by our support, meant that she can improve her success rate by 85% by avoiding false positives from analysis of paraffin embedded tissue.

The Klotho project itself has been delayed due to the pandemic but Dr Sachdeva is continuing to look for more tissue samples to analyse. In the meantime, she and her friends are back on emergency rotas but, even so, she is working on research papers incorporating recommended changes prior to publication.

mASCARA continues its international recruitment to the register:

Covid has slowed adoption of the register by Canada and a few other sites as they go through their Ethics Committees, but Australia has joined with two sites. Dr Browning has written her latest submission for the mASCARA register acknowledging RTD. We will be publishing all her papers as they are agreed, following peer review.

PREVAIL Project having an impact already:

Discussions are happening now to implement the PREVAIL scoring system to help prioritise surgery for cancer patients without endangering them unnecessarily from Covid or from operating too late. The PREVAIL scoring system provides input on a patient’s cancer progression, which when added to an assessment of a patient’s physical state can be used to make an objective decision on treatment without risk of moral injury. It aims to replace the current timeframe-based system, which drives treatment decisions regardless of tumour progression, to make sure patients get treatment when needed.

RTD Funding Strategy:

We were very pleased to hear that Dr Chong and Professor Brown are collaborating on a 5 year plan for Bowel Cancer research. This comes at an opportune time as we develop our own funding strategy, to make sure we target our funding to maximise the impact RTD has on increasing awareness, facilitating early treatment and improving wellbeing for Bowel Cancer patients. We look forward to working with our wonderful group of doctors on this and will communicate it to our RTD community as soon as we are able. We want you to know exactly where your donations are spent on.

A little on COVID and vaccines:

A couple of our own members have had the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, without any ill effects so. One of our patients on this Happy Hour thanked the NHS for giving him the vaccine – he is now the proud bearer of a vaccine badge!

Patients at RMCH are now being tested twice per week if they are inpatients and the hospital remains quite clean from COVID-19, so please go in for your appointments and treatment.

Dr Chong explained how the different vaccines work. The Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA that uses the body’s own immunity to produce to produce the spike protein we have all heard about so much. It does not disrupt a person’s own DNA and is very effective – approximately 95% – but is highly unstable needing refrigeration.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine uses a harmless virus (yes some are!) to carry components of COVID-19 that stimulate the body’s own immune system.

Both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines require two injections, and both are highly effective. We heard though that those vaccinated can still contract COVID-19 but will not suffer the same severity of symptoms, and that side effects are still not full understood, as the vaccines are so new, but it has been shown that those who have already contracted COVID before they are vaccinated suffer worse side effects!

To put some context around the aim to achieve 70% immunity in the population against COVID – what we understand as the level needed for “herd immunity” – we heard that the annual flu jab only delivers approximately 60% immunity.

Next Happy Hour:

Hope you enjoyed reading the summary of our last Happy Hour and that you will come to our next one on the 3rd of February.