A charity set up in memory of brain tumour victim Katy Holmes is to invest more than £700,000 in research aimed at saving other children from the disease.
The Katy Holmes Trust will fund a groundbreaking five-year project, led by researchers at the world-renowned Institute for Cancer Research, the Institute for Child Health and Newcastle University, investigating new treatments for tumours including the type which took Katy’s life in January 2012.
The work will form part of a wider programme of research into childhood brain tumours, costing £4m in total and led by The Brain Tumour Charity.
Katy’s mum Paula said the trust was thrilled to work alongside The Brain Tumour Charity funding world-class research into DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma), for which there is currently no effective treatment.
She said: “Not only are we giving money to The Brain Tumour Charity, which we believe is the best charity out there in the brain tumour field, but we are funding the best doctors and scientists doing research, in the best places for research.
“When this opportunity came up, there was never any doubt that we would jump at the chance.”
Paula said she and her husband David – who have two daughters, Charley and Scarlet – were determined to help spare other families the heartbreak they had suffered when Katy died.
“Katy had her whole life ahead of her and she was taken away from us in the cruellest way. We have experienced the most unimaginable, indescribable pain.
“We feel that we have a duty, knowing the devastation that children’s brain tumours cause, to do something about it.”
Paula discovered when Katy was diagnosed with DIPG that treatment had not progressed significantly since the early 1960s, when the daughter of astronaut Neil Armstrong died from the same type of tumour.
“It makes you wonder - if the money had been invested in research back then, would Katy have survived?”
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “Research of this kind is the only way we are going to end the devastation caused by brain tumours. All of those who so generously support The Katy Holmes Trust and The Brain Tumour Charity are helping to make that happen.”
Dr Chris Jones, who will lead the research into DIPG at the ICR, said: “The money pledged by the Katy Holmes Trust will have a real impact on the amount of work we are able to carry out here and at the other research centres involved in the project.
“Our progress towards more effective treatments for childhood brain tumours has been frustrated partly by a lack of funding for research so we are very excited by the opportunities this donation will bring.”
The Katy Holmes Trust has already raised more than £430,000 since it was established in July 2012, after Katy died aged 10.
In addition, The Brain Tumour Charity requires researchers working on the ICR project to obtain ‘matched funding’ from other sources. This programme of research has attracted significant match-funding from the Great Ormond Street Hospital charity. That means for every £1 The Katy Holmes Trust gives to The Brain Tumour Charity towards DIPG research, a total of £2.28 will be invested in the project.