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Coronavirus: Cancer research could face delays, experts warn

By Louise Cullen

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image copyrightReuters
image captionDr Philip Dunne said it could take months before research is back to full speed

Progress in cancer research may be delayed due to the impact of Covid-19 on charity fundraising, some experts have warned.

Large-scale fundraising events like the annual Race for Life had to be cancelled when the pandemic hit.

That meant Cancer Research UK, which funds many studies and trials in Belfast, immediately lost out on £44m.

The charity is projecting a loss of £150m in the next year.

This is equivalent to what it would invest in clinical trials in the next decade.

image captionEvents such as Race for Life help raise funds for medical research

Dr Philip Dunne is part of the bowel cancer research group at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen's University Belfast (QUB).

He said Covid-19 has shown just how reliant cancer research is on charity funding.

"What that translates into for a cancer research lab like our own is reduced funding for particular experiments and particular types of reagents, and things we need for advancing our work," he said.

"But also for the staffing costs, the scientists' costs, and a real loss will be the funding that is available to support clinical trials in Belfast and across the UK as well."

The QUB scientist said while work will continue, it may have to be at a slower pace.

"When most people think of research they see a scientist, white coat and test tubes, and although this work is slowly re-starting, the new safety measures in place in the laboratory, and complex experiments to recover, mean it could take months to get back up and running at full speed."

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