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Cancer Research UK head crowdfunding campaign

Visit any crowdfunding website and you’re likely to be embargoed with individual personal campaigns for people’s own travel plans, dreams and inventions. Some of these crowdfunding projects are wildly successful – films and plays have been made through sites like IndieGoGo and KickStarter, but now Cancer Research UK is adding a different dynamic to the popular websites.

Aimed at raising £190,000 to fund three life-saving new projects, the charity is giving the public the chance to get fully and directly involved with their high-quality research and turn their pioneering and potentially life-saving ideas into real-life treatments for cancer patients across the nation.

Crowdfunding sites use donations from the public who ‘pledge’ a certain amount of money to directly back a specific project. Project proposals are only ‘open’ on the site for a limited amount of time and if the target amount isn’t met, then the project isn’t funded and the existing pledges are refunded.

The director of research funding at Cancer Research UK said: “Crowdfunding is growing more popular and offers an exciting new way to fund scientific research. Today, two in four people survive cancer. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that three in four people will survive cancer within the next 20 years. This means funding more scientists, more cutting edge ideas, and more high-quality research. To achieve this, we need to find new ways to fund innovative projects and crowdfunding could be one answer.”

He added: “We’re opening doors to our scientists and their future research projects. By inviting everyone to be a part of the decision-making process, we can give them the power to make this crucial research happen now.”

Currently the organisation has a project which involves growing 3D lung tissue in a laboratory, analysing how intelligent lung cancer cells are becoming resistant to certain treatments, and how it develops. Another study looks into skin cancer and how it spreads whilst another includes a study into a vaccine which protects people against the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) which 95% of us carry, but which can also contribute to a number of cancers.

Each individual project is being led specifically by a qualified Cancer Research UK-funded scientist who wants to carry out a piece of extra high-quality research outside of their own existing funding granted by the organisation. Using videos and a ‘pitch’ for the public to read, the scientists involved hope to get a positive response.

Dr Victoria Sanz-Moreno who is based at King’s College London and hopes to be involved in the skin cancer project said: “It’s been amazing to see the public support for our research, and to get such a positive response from people who are as excited by the project as we are. We’ve never tried this before so it’s an opportunity to get people more involved in our research. It’s also a great way for people to see some of the things that we’re working on and directly help us to beat cancer sooner.”

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