Newsletter December 2015

Dear donors and friends of MERMAID,

2015 has been an active year for the MERMAID Project.

Grace many important and substantial donations from foundations, corporate and private individuals the research in MERMAID III could commence.

MERMAID III is the MERMAID project’s largest research project to date, with a budget of DKK 40 million, of which we have received DKK 31 million in funds and commitments. We are deeply grateful for all of the donations received.

During the year we had the opportunity to welcome donors and interested parties to a lunch presentation on Sealand at the co-founder of MERMAID, Peter Vagn-Jensen, Selchausdal, and also in Jutland a dinner presentation in Århus sponsored by Claus Hommelhoff, Formuepleje, and member of our Advisory Committee.

At these two events, the research leader professor Bent Ottesen presented the MERMAID III research. Professor Susanne Kruger Kjaer, who led MERMAID II, took the opportunity to present this project’s research results. Read more on www.mermaidprojektet.dk/projekterne

Duchess Alexandra, an honorary member of MERMAID, also held a touching speech. The Duchess described how ovarian cancer is particularly brutal in families where a mother becomes ill. This speech can be see on MERMAIDs Website www.mermaidprojektet.dk.

At the event on Sjælland two of MERMAIDs GOODWILL ambassadors Bente Schmeichel and the singer Lis Sørensen participated. Lis Sørensen gave a much appreciated concert.

We extend our sincere thanks to the guest at both events in respects of the valuable donations subsequently received for the research in MERMAID III.

The research

In parallel to the fundraising the commencement of the research work took place in the middle of the year.

“MERMAID III – The challenge of ovarian cancer: Screening, early diagnosis and the identification of women at high risk”. The aim of the research is to identify one or more methods of diagnosing ovarian cancer at an early stage. The background for the research is that ovarian cancer is the type of gynecological cancer that causes the most deaths among women in Europe and the United States. Only around 40% of women diagnosed survive. However, 90% of women diagnosed at an early stage survive, whereas a mere 5-10% survive when diagnosed at a later stage. Hypothetically, via identifying all women at the earliest stage, the survival rate would be capable of reaching 90%.

The research is divided into three sub-projects that attempt to identify methods for early diagnosis from multiple angles.

The researchers have as the first part of the process begun to collect and analyze cell samples from both healthy women and women who has developed ovarian cancer. This part is a prerequisite to be able to progress with detailed research in the three research parts of MERMAID III:

Early detection and screening is the title of the first research project. The Head of research professor Susanne Krüger Kjær, The Dansih Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse)/Copenhagen University Hospital.

The researchers will established a bio-bank with 200.000 cell samples from the cervix; samples that are taken routinely from all women as they are screened for cervical cancer. Moreover an existing biobank is used that contains samples from 50.000 Danish women. From the samples, cells from the ovaries can be isolated and genetic material can be mapped. This makes it possible for cancerous cells in the ovaries and their pre-stages to be identified and characterized. A positive result from this project would contribute to enabling the screening of ovarian cancer, in a similar fashion to the way we already screen for cervical cancer.

The second research project is called Biomarkers and/or prognostic markers and the head of the research is Professor Claus Høgdall, Copenhagen University Hospital.

This project is based on women, who are already undergoing treatment for cervical cancer. Molecular and biological investigations of tissue and blood from women with cancer can identify new markers that are characteristic of the disease. A good marker will increase the chance of being able to diagnose the cancer at an early stage.

Professor Jan Blaakær, Skejby Hospital is the head of the research in the third project: The infection theory:

This project will utilize highly sensitive, molecular and biological analytic methods, to discern whether ovarian cancer might caused by a bacteria or a virus, as is the case with cervical cancer, which can today be prevented with a vaccine.

The research is expected to span 8 years.

New member

During the year we have also had the pleasure in welcoming Jørgen Horwitz as a new and active member of the Advisory Committee. Jørgen has extensive experience from the areas of foundations, legal practises, and industry and lately as MD of the Danish Bankers Association.

At the MERMAID Project we are looking forward an active year in 2016 in respect of important research and fundraising.

We thank you for all valuable support and interest in MERMAID and wish you and your families a

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

Yours sincerely

Birgitte Blix Treschow,
adm. Project Coordinator,

The MERMAID Project