Newsletter Summer 2014

Dear donors,

It has been another dynamic and exciting year for the MERMAID Project, both in terms of the cervical cancer research in MERMAID II and the fundraising for the research on ovarian cancer for MERMAID III.

We would like to take this opportunity to inform you regarding the process that has happened during the first half of 2014, and on behalf ofMERMAID, warmly thank you for making this crucial medical research possible.

MERMAID II – research on cervical cancer
MERMAID II’s researchers in the beginning of 2014 presented groundbreaking findings following an investigation into the effect of the HPV vaccine and the consequent risk for prestages of cervical cancer among women in Denmark. The research project was one of the first ever to be executed that uses country-wide information on individuals in order to compare the occurrence of cellular changes among women vaccinated with HPV vis-à-vis young women who have not been vaccinated. The results have been published in the prestigious Americal journal Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The research project showed an early and significant effect of HPV vaccination; not only on early pre-stages but also on later and severe ones that would otherwise have required surgical treatment to prevent them from developing into cervical cancer.

The researchers found that:
– The risk of cellular changes was significantly lower among the vaccinated women with a reduction of risk of up to 60% in comparison with non-vaccinated women
– The risk for the most complicated types of pre-stages (CIN3) were also significantly lower among the vaccinated women with a risk reduction of up to 80% compared to the non-vaccinated women

In another recently-published journal the same scientists in MERMAID II have been examining the development of new types of pre-stages of cervical cancer among all Danish women before and after the implementation of the Danish HPV vaccination programme.

The study, which has been published in the renowned American journal Cancer Causes and Control confirms that the vaccination programme is already bringing about important effects:
– The number of new cases of pre-stages rose significantly in all age-groups prior to the implementation of the HPV vaccination programme.
– The number of new cases arising among women under the age of 21 fell drastically after the implementation of the programme. There was not a significant fall in new cases among women above the age of 21.
– In other words, the significant fall in new cases took place only among age groups covered by the HPV vaccination programme.

MERMAID III– research on ovarian cancer
During the Spring of 2014 researchers and members of the board and advisory committee have all contributed to fundraising for MERMAID’s latest research project: MERMAID III: Screening, early diagnosis and the identification of women at high risk!

With a budget of 40 million DKK, MERMAID III is the most comprehensive research project to be undertaken by MERMAID so far.

MERMAID was very grateful to be informed that Candys Foundation will support MERMAID III with a donation of 5 million DKK. We are equally grateful for the other donations that we have received, some of which are from foundations that have earlier supported the MERMAID Project. Many further applications have been sent out, and we are hoping for a positive response. The researchers are in need of an additional 7 million DKK in order to start undertaking the vital research. The research is focused on developing one or more methods that will help diagnose ovarian cancer at an early stage.

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly form of gynecological cancer among women in Europe and the United States. Only around 40% of those diagnosed survive. The causes of ovarian cancer are unknown, and the disease often only exhibits symptoms at a relatively late stage, which is the main reason for the high death rate. A major breakthrough to improve the survival rate would be early identification and diagnosis. If all women were identified at an early stage, ideally, it would be possible to save the lives of 200 women in Denmark alone – and many more in an international perspective.

Three researchers, who are all specialists within research in ovarian cancer, are responsible for each their research project. These will from different angles try to develop applicable methods for the purpose of early diagnosis. The research teams involved all have extensive experience with research at an international level within their respective areas of interest. The research for the MERMAID III Project has been carried out in close cooperation with researchers from, among others, John Hopkins Medical Institutes, Baltimore, USA and Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

Denmark is a unique point of departure for these studies, given its particular system of personal identity identification. The combination of a team of world-class researchers, existing bio-banks and databases and new technological advances make MERMAID III a more advanced project than when MERMAID I commenced. However, the researchers build on the earlier results from MERMAID I in the new studies. (Read about MERMAID I on www.mermaidprojektet.dk).

Kind Regards,
On behalf of the MERMAID Project
Birgitte Blix Treschow
Project Coordinator, MERMAID