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Research into the early detection of ovarian cancer by the Ahmed group at the MRC WIMM receives a boost thanks to a gift of £43,000 from the Dianne Oxberry Trust.

Photograph showing Dr Siobhan Ferguson, Ian Hindle, Prof Ahmed Ahmed, Abdulkhaliq Alsaadi  and Dr Mara Artibani.
Trustees Dr Siobhan Ferguson and Ian Hindle with members of the Ahmed group at the MRC WIMM.

The donation will support doctoral candidate Abdulkhaliq Alsaadi in this research by covering the stipend and other costs associated with his final year of study, including research consumables.

More than 250,000 women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, with almost half dying from the disease. This makes ovarian cancer the most common cause of death from a gynaecological malignancy. Late diagnosis a key contributing factor.

At Oxford, a concerted effort is being made to better understand the origins of the disease. Led by Ahmed Ahmed, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology in the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, researchers are utilising cutting-edge methodologies to classify the cells in the fallopian tube – thought to be the organ from which most ovarian cancers develop. It is hoped that this will lead to the discovery of new biomarkers that could be used for pre-cancer screening.

Working under Professor Ahmed’s supervision, Abdulkhaliq is developing a system for growing fallopian tub­e organoids (mini-fallopian tubes) in the lab. These organoids can be used to investigate the different cell types within fallopian tubes, and model how ovarian cancer starts. The Dianne Oxberry Trust’s generosity will enable Abdulkhaliq to continue this important work for a further year.

Professor Ahmed says: ‘This very generous donation from the Dianne Oxberry Trust will support our endeavours to better understand how ovarian cancer begins. Early detection is crucial to surviving this terrible disease, and this funding from the Dianne Oxberry Trust gets us one step closer to reaching that goal.’

The Dianne Oxberry Trust was set up in the memory of BBC presenter Dianne Oxberry, who died from ovarian cancer in January 2019, at the age of 51. Established by her husband Ian Hindle, the trust supports those affected by ovarian cancer through the provision of grants, information and advice.

‘The work Professor Ahmed and his team are doing is incredible,’ says Ian. ‘Hopefully with our donation we are going to make a difference.’

Dr Siobhan Ferguson, Trustee of the Dianne Oxberry Trust, adds: ‘Knowing what we know about what happened to Dianne, how short her journey was, the emphasis on early diagnosis is so important. You really get a sense that the team are breaking ground and that they will perhaps, within our lifetime, be able to spot women much earlier in the disease process.’

BBC North West highlighted the work of the Ahmed lab and this generous donation on their Evening News on the 10th of October 2019.