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Dame Deborah James would have been ‘thrilled’ by bowel cancer breakthrough after raising millions for research, pals say

DAME Deborah James’ pals say she would have been ‘thrilled’ after money raised helped fund a breakthrough in cancer research.

A team of experts funded by Cancer Research UK, who received money from the Bowelbabe pot that raised a whopping £7million after Sun columnist Debs set it up, have discovered a way to stop late-stage bowel cancer growing.

Dame Deborah raised £7million for cancer research
One of the charities she gave money to has funded a breakthrough research project

A team led by Dr Kevin Myant has been able to block the messages telling cancer to grow, by targeting a specific gene that leaves healthy cells unaffected.

Steve Bland, whose wife Rachael co-hosted the You, Me and the Big C podcast with Dame Deborah, who died aged 40 in June, said the campaigner would be “thrilled”.

He told The Mirror: “It’s extraordinary what’s happening in the world of cancer and the speed at which research is moving.

“The passion and drive that people have to make the lives of cancer patients better is amazing. I’m sure this is ­something Deb would have been thrilled about.

“Deb did so much and she was so passionate about research but we won’t get to see the impact of the fundraising she did for decades to come.”

The Cancer Research UK funding was actually allocated to the team several years ago, but the Bowelbabe funds will be use to finance many similar research efforts going forward.

Team leader Dr Myant explained that the breakthrough could make the disease easier to treat.

He said: “If we can stop splicing from being hijacked, we can stop bowel cancer from growing and make it more vulnerable to treatment.

“There is an urgent need for better treatments for bowel cancer, particularly where it is caught at a later stage. This research could open up new approaches to treating bowel cancer in the future.”

Around 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK each year.

The rate of bowel cancer diagnoses amongst under-50s has even increased by 32 per cent over the past decade.

A Cancer Research UK spokesman said: “The Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK will support causes and projects that Deborah was passionate about.

“These include funding clinical trials and research into personalised medicine that could result in new ­treatments for cancer patients.”

Dam Debs died in June aged 40

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