One of the UK's most-loved children's charities, Little Princess Trust, which supplies free real-hair wigs to kids with medical hair loss, has announced a breakthrough in its paediatric cancer research.
Funds raised by the charity not only go towards producing the wigs it donates, so they can be supplied without charge, but also fund childhood cancer research projects.
Little Princess Trust was set up by Wendy Tarplee-Morris, in honour of her late daughter Hannah, who was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour in 2005. Now, a research project carried out by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, to which the charity awarded a grant of £63,844, has managed to pinpoint the earliest genetic root of Wilms’ tumour kidney cancer.
A statement on the Little Princess Trust website advises that this significant find should help scientists to "improve treatment and help prevent Wilms’ tumours returning". Additionally, it may lead to a way to screen for this type of cancer in future to catch it early, or prevent it from developing altogether.
Study author, Tim Coorens explained the team's discovery as follows:
“A good analogy for what we found is that Wilms’ tumour is not just an isolated weed on an otherwise well maintained field. We discovered that the weed has an extensive root underneath the soil. Now we know we need to look for the patch of soil where the root has taken hold. If we remove that patch, the weed isn’t going to return.”
"As a parent who lost my daughter to Wilms’, it is very sobering to know that almost 15 years later a child with the same diagnosis is likely to have the same outcome," added Wendy Tarplee-Morris. “Therefore, the news of any advances which improve understanding and could potentially lead to preventing childhood cancer is very welcome indeed."
Many people know about the Little Princess Trust through its hair donations - where men, women and children grow their hair long in order to be able to cut off at least 7 inches to donate to the charity, This is then processed and woven into wigs for children and young adults who have lost their hair, often to cancer treatment or forms of the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.
Whilst this is the shortest possible donation, those in the greatest demand are hair lengths of 16 inches and over, and all donors are advised to keep growing their hair until it is long enough to donate at least 12 inch-long strands. Full details of how to donate hair to the charity can be found on its website.
In addition to donating hair, monetary donations are also accepted by phone, post or online, as is sponsorship for the various fundraising initiatives the charity runs throughout the year. These are advertised on its website and social media channels.
Little Princess Trust is also planning to launch a range of merchandise soon, to further help bring in financial contributions to help with its heart-warming work.
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