A charity which has turned Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire into a UK-leading region for the detection of cancer, heart disease and dementia set out its vision for tackling specific killer illnesses to an audience of pan-Humber businesses.
The Daisy Appeal highlighted early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s as one benefit of the facilities which it is bringing to Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, to help patients throughout East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire.
Leaders of the campaign also told business supporters at the DoubleTree Forest Pines Resort of the progress they are making towards swift detection of prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men.
In raising awareness of the Daisy Appeal the event also triggered donations of nearly £20,000 towards the charity’s target of £8.2 million to build and equip the new Molecular Imaging Research Centre, which is under construction and due for completion in autumn this year.
Professor Nick Stafford, who launched the Daisy Appeal in 2002, said: “I really wanted to do something to enhance the local medical development profile. I was sick and tired of supposed centres of excellence taking the credit when there was work going on here and nobody was flying the flag.
“I thought the whole thing would have cost £2.5 million. By this time next year the total cost will be £13 million and we will have one of the finest set-ups in the country mainly because of the ability we have to put it all on one site.”
The first milestone was the opening in 2008 of Daisy Appeal’s Research and Development Centre at Castle Hill. The Jack Brignall PET-CT Centre was opened in 2014, with scanning widely predicted to increase by 12 to 14 per cent year on year for the next decade.
The charity also purchased a table-top cyclotron and gave it to the University of Hull for research and this year it will take delivery of a second cyclotron which is medical practice compliant and will become the centrepiece of the new centre, further cementing Castle Hill’s reputation for excellence.
Professor Stafford said: “The next five years will see this geographical area become a centre for PET-CT development and the opportunities that will bring are immense. The UK is dragging behind Western Europe and North America in terms of using PET but we are now producing a set-up which will be able to expand its use across a very wide band of medical conditions.
“It will allow us to produce our own radio tracers. You have to make these on your doorstep and there are not many places in the world that have that capability and certainly not in the north of England.
“We built a partnership between the NHS, Daisy and the University which really does work. The PET market is increasing at a fast rate and there will be the opportunity to make a fantastic impact on a lot of medical advances over the next 10 years. I would like to think by then we would need a second cyclotron.”
Prof Steve Archibald of the MIR Centre at the University of Hull’s Faculty of Health Services said the Jack Brignall PET-CT Centre is now scanning around 3,500 patients a year compared with around 1,400 in its first year. Around one-third of patients are from Northern Lincolnshire.
He said: “Our cyclotron has been operating since 2014. It was the first model of this type in the world and it’s been brilliant for pushing our research. We have been able to move much faster than some of the big centres and we are getting global recognition for some of the work that we have been doing over the past five years.
“We want to get clinical trials going and new therapies developed. The building is under construction and we are in the final stages of fundraising. It’s a really impressive building that looks like it’s come down from outer space and landed on the hospital site. Patients don’t go in there but they benefit from what comes out.
“Alzheimer’s diagnosis has become bigger and bigger and we need to continue that as the treatment drugs are being developed. There is a scan for prostate cancer that is being tested and it’s one that we want to do in Hull.
“We are starting to get international traction based on what’s going on in Hull through the University and NHS partnership and it would not happen without the Daisy Appeal. The reason this is not happening elsewhere in the UK is that there isn’t a Daisy Appeal elsewhere with the vision to bring partners together.”
For further information on the work of the Daisy Appeal visit www.daisyappeal.org