Scots trapeze scientist stands up to cancer

Stand up to caner dr sara zanivan sw3

​Cancer scientist taken on her fear of heights to fight cancer 

16th October 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A leading cancer scientist and aerial performance artist from Glasgow is backing a campaign urging Scots to stand up to the disease.

Dr Sara Zanivan from the city’s Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute is calling on Scots to join the rebellion and support Stand Up To Cancer – a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.

Channelling the defiant spirit of the campaign, scientist Sara stands up to her fear of heights by taking to the trapeze in her spare time.

Sara said: “When I’m working on the trapeze or the hoop, or concentrating on doing drops on the silks, I’m so focused on my balance and remembering the movements that my head completely empties.

“It means I come back to the lab refreshed and ready to take on my research.

“And it’s such a good feeling afterwards, confronting my fear and pushing myself a little bit higher each time.”

Sara’s research is funded by Stand Up To Cancer, which raises money for game-changing research to get new, better, kinder tests and treatments to cancer patients, faster. 

Together with her team at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, she is studying the role of a type of cell called a fibroblast in breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Fibroblast cells have many functions, including producing the scaffolding for organs and tissues and helping to heal wounds.

Sara and her team are looking at how these cells are manipulated in tumours, helping cancer cells to grow and multiply and acting as accomplices for their escape around the body.

Sara said: “We call these cancer conspirators ‘cancer associated fibroblasts’, or CAFs.

“We are trying to identify molecules that are essential for the function of CAFs. If we can develop drugs that can take these molecules down then our hope is we might be able to leave the cancer cells without their valuable allies.”

Stand Up to Cancer takes developments in the lab and transforms them into brand new tests and treatments for cancer patients.

Since it was launched in the UK in 2012, the campaign has raised more than £38 million to fund over 40 clinical trials and research projects. 

Victoria Steven, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Scotland, said: “We’re on the brink of a revolution in cancer research - thanks to improvements in treatments and early diagnosis, more people are surviving than ever before. But we can’t afford to stand still. 

"It’s time to rebel against cancer, raise money and save lives. Every pound raised for Stand Up to Cancer will help to support this progress and bring forward the day when all cancers are cured."