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New Look for Topic of Cancer A Charity That Supports Research Into Immunotherapies

Published on: 10 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 8 Apr, 2022

Launched in 2013, Topic of Cancer is a Guildford-based charity that supports research into immunotherapy treatment, which during the past decade has permanently changed cancer treatment. It has become the standard of treatment in the NHS for many. The charity has recently rebranded itself to reflect the changes in immunotherapies, and, after a absence of three years owing to the pandemic, has once again held its major fundraising event, the Purple Ball.

Immunotherapy was still very much in its infancy when Topic of Cancer was founded. The charity says Prof Pandha and his research team, based at the University of Surrey, were one of the few teams spearheading research into this revolutionary type of cancer treatment.

Since then, it has entered the medical mainstream as a powerful game-changing treatment for many cancer patients, improving quality and length of life.

Anne Powell-Evans, who chairs Topic of Caner, says: “During the pandemic lockdown the trustees had the opportunity to carry out some research with a range of people and reflect on the charity’s aims and vision.

“Our bold new refreshed brand is designed to be more accessible and modern, engaging with cancer patients and researchers, alongside reaching new audiences.

“Our aim is to support research into immunotherapies, so that new treatments for more cancers are developed, saving more lives and bringing hope for a better future.”

To celebrate the scientific and clinical advances the team has made over the past decade and to launch the new look to friends and supporters, a research afternoon was held at the labs at the University of Surrey.

The founder and president of Topic of Cancer, Nigel Lewis-Baker (centre), at the charity’s rebranding research afternoon held at the labs at the University of Surrey.

Trustee and professor of medical oncology, Hardev Pandha, gave an introduction to cancer immunotherapy and Dr Charles Rayner shared his research into new immunotherapy approaches to treating oesophageal cancer, which currently has very poor outcomes under conventional treatments.

Trustee and consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Dr Panos Koliu, explained how immunotherapy has revolutionised melanoma skin cancer, becoming the standard treatment and drastically improving survival rates.

While a heartfelt and emotional account from cancer patient Martin Aquilina, whose cancers have been successfully treated by immunotherapy, brought home just how vital this research is in saving lives and giving hope.

Senior research fellow Dr Nicola Annels shared future research projects into bacteria and microbiomes that live inside cancer cells and how these might be altered to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs.

The team also needs a machine called a MACs Quant 16, which will allow them a more detailed and faster analysis of thousands of immune cells, giving them detailed information as to whether anti-cancer immune responses are happening, and if so, how good these responses are.

The Topic of Cancer’s 2022 Purple Ball was held at the Harbour Hotel in Guildford on March 12. The evening raised in excess of £14.000.

At The Topic of Cancer’s Purple Ball, held at the Harbour Hotel in Guildford on March 12, 160 people enjoyed a three-course meal, danced to the band Sultana, were photographed by Chris Mann and entertained by magician Richard Kettle and the charity’s own choir, ToCVoices. The MC for the evening was Peter Gordon.

There was a live auction, a silent auction and a raffle. Prizes included a hot-air balloon ride, a trip on a light plane to the Northern Lights, a laptop computer and a family portrait session. In excess of £14,000 was raised.

Pictured at the Purple Ball, Professor Pandha, professor of oncology at the University of Surrey, who is head of the research team the Topic of Cancer supports.

The charity also runs a choir, provides fitness classes in partnership with another charity and a support group for cancer patients, their families and carers. These groups managed to continue on Zoom throughout the pandemic and were a lifeline for many people.

The team relies solely on grants and charitable donations to conduct their work. To donate visit

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