In June 2023, Ruby's mum & sister travelled to Newcastle to visit the team carrying out the first research project supported by Ruby's fund.
Dr Lisa Russell and her team at Newcastle University are researching potential new treatments for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which target leukaemia cells specifically, leaving normal body cells unharmed. This would reduce side effects for children and young people undergoing leukaemia treatment.
Whilst many children with leukaemia can be cured, there are significant long-term side effects like heart and thyroid problems. And for patients like Ruby, whose cancer comes back, there are sometimes no further options. This project will help create safer and more effective treatments.
It was tremendously exciting to see first-hand the research that's taking place and to hear about the exciting progress so far. We learned how much patience and resilience a cancer researcher needs - from the challenges of keeping cells alive in the lab, to the frustrations experienced when initially promising results prove impossible to replicate.
And, without any core funding, just how much time has to be spent on grant applications. This vital research simply wouldn't happen without funds like ours; big pharmaceutical organisations have little interest in funding this kind of research as the numbers of patients are too small.
It's fantastic that, just over 3 years after Ruby died, the research she asked us to support in her memory is starting to show some results. We're more determined than ever to keep fundraising so that we eventually reach our goal of £500,000 - roughly the amount the NHS spent trying to save Ruby.
Huge thanks to Lisa and her brilliant team - Leti, Phoebe, Ahmed, Nereli and Cami - for spending time with us.
We can't wait to hear more about the project's progress in due course.