By Katherine Swift, Trustee and Founder of The Healthy Life Foundation
The last couple of weeks have been tough. Many of you may already be familiar with my personal story and how my mum’s breast cancer motivated me to start OMGTea, but you probably aren’t aware of the role one man in particular, played in getting me on this path.
When my mum was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, I worked in events and one of the events I project managed was The Northwest Football Awards. On the day mum had her mastectomy I was literally all over the place worrying about how the operation was going and how she would be following on from it. My husband Jason suggested I try to focus on work to take my mind off what was happening, and it was Maurice Watkins the Chair of the Judging Panel for the awards that I decided to call to discuss the upcoming judging day. At that time Maurice was also the Chairman of a £20 million appeal for the New Children’s Hospital in Manchester and we had historically fund-raised for this appeal at the awards. When we got onto the subject of fundraising, I asked Maurice if he still wanted to raise for the Children’s Hospital and it was then he told me that he had just been appointed the Chairman of a £5 million appeal for Breakthrough Breast Cancer (now known as Breast Cancer Now) and he would like them to be the benefactor. Goosebumps! I told Maurice where mum was that day, we raised for Breakthrough that year and I was then actually appointed as the £5 Million Breast Cancer Appeal Project Manager.
The Appeal was set up to fund ground-breaking scientific/medical research and was what is referred to as a Major Donor Appeal so rather than tin shaking in town centres etc we were identifying high net worth individuals who might be interested in supporting the research and taking them on tours of the research unit to meet the scientists and see the research in action. The Research Director was Professor Michael Lisanti who had a keen interest in the role natural compounds could play in the treatment and prevention of cancer. This is where I was exposed, on a regular basis, to this inspirational research, it’s where I found out about the potential health benefits of antioxidants in our diets and that in turn led me to matcha. The relationships I developed with Michael and his team led me to setting up my charity The Healthy Life Foundation of which Maurice was a Trustee. If it wasn’t for Maurice none of this would have been possible.
Maurice was a truly extraordinary man and to list his many achievements would genuinely take too long. As well as a dazzling career in sports law, he has left so many legacies, with the ones that were dear to his heart including; Chairman of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity for which he was instrumental in raising nearly £70 million; Chairman of Governors at Manchester Grammar School; Chairman of British Swimming (he was delighted by the incredible success of the GB Swimming Team at the Tokyo Olympics).
We also found out on the day of Maurice’s funeral that he would have been Knighted in the Queen’s New Years Honours List 2022 but sadly they don’t hand out these honours posthumously. No-one could have been more worthy.
I feel so fortunate to have known Maurice, he was an extraordinary person and someone I looked up to immensely. He has been a true inspiration to me, which is why I wanted to write this tribute.
This Sunday (12th September) I will be participating in The Brighton Marathon Weekend 10K and I will be running in memory of Maurice, fundraising for the Healthy Life Foundation of which Maurice was a Trustee.
The Healthy Life Foundation is a charity that funds research into age related diseases. Today, we are living longer than ever before, but for many of us that extended life will be spent fighting diseases and living with pain and suffering. Ageing is the biggest risk factor for the major diseases facing society today, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. To help us to enjoy our longer lives, we need to tackle age-related diseases. The charity has already raised £500k and been involved in two key pieces of research which have the potential to improve global health.
If you would like to sponsor me in my run to commemorate Maurice, which will help fund more ground-breaking research into ageing, please go to:
We are participating in the 10K Run at the Brighton Marathon Weekend event on Sunday, September 12th 2021 to raise funds for the Healthy Life Foundation Charity.
Help us to make a difference with your donation! Your donation will help us support scientific and medical research targeted at preventing degenerative disease and extending both human health span and life span.
You can support our runners that are participating in this event to raise money for this amazing cause by donating directly to our Just Giving Page at
New research from the lead scientific advisor of the Healthy Life Foundation, Michael Lisanti and his team at Salford University shows that cutting off the fuel supply can effectively stop the spread of cancer cells.
This is important as nearly 90% of all cancer patients that undergo treatment failure, die from the spread of cancer throughout the body. Cancer spreading is known as metastasis.
Metastatic cancer cells are resistant to cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatment this creating an urgent medical need to stop the spread of cancer cells.
Scientists have identified that metastatic cancer cells require an enormous amount of energy and represent the ‘fittest’ cancer cells – this explaining why they are drug-resistant.
The Translational Medicine Laboratory at the University of Salford have now isolated the ‘fittest’ cancer cells for the first time using a special sensor to detect ATP in living cells. ATP is the universal ‘currency’ of energy in all living things.
They identified that ATP-high cells were the most aggressive, making it easy to study the ‘fittest’ cancer cells, to discover their Achilles’ heel. ATP-high cells were almost 5 times more metastatic.
Professor Michael P. Lisanti, MD-PhD, Chair of Translational Medicine, said: “This simple idea has been right under our nose, all the time; ATP is a new marker for aggressive cancer cells and treatment failure.”
Professor Federica Sotgia, PhD, Chair of Cancer Biology and Ageing, stated that: “Ultimately, ATP-depletion could prevent metastasis, by directly cutting off cancer’s fuel supply.”
One of the best ways to empty the fuel tank is to target the engine that produces ATP.
Fiorillo, Sotgia, Lisanti and colleagues used an FDA-approved drug that was originally designed to inhibit energy production in bacteria.
The drug, Sirturo, targeted the fuel supply of cancer cells and blocked metastasis by nearly 85%. The drug had no effects on normal cells, thereby minimizing side-effects. It found that treatment with Sirturo caused a ‘power failure’, but only in cancer cells.
Sirturo is already FDA-approved, with these findings paving the way for new cancer clinical trials.
This potentially life-saving research was co-authored by Dr. Marco Fiorillo, Professor Federica Sotgia and Professor Michael P. Lisanti at the University of Salford, and was published in the Nature journal, Cell Death and Differentiation.
Dr. Cristian Scatena and Professor Antonio Giuseppe Naccarato, from the University of Pisa Hospital, also collaborated in the study, using patient samples.
New research from the lead scientific advisor of the Healthy Life Foundation, Michael Lisanti and his team at Salford University.
Three recent papers published in Nature, Science and Cell, all present clear evidence that there is cross-reactive T-cell immunity between human coronaviruses (229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1), linked with the common cold, and SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Can we use this information to design and build a new vaccine based on the less pathogenic, common cold coronaviruses, for the prevention of COVID-19? If we look at the history of medicine and vaccine development, from the point of view of Edward Jenner, the answer just might be yes.
Lead Scientific Advisors of the Healthy Life Foundation, Professor Michael Lisanti and Professor Federica Sotgia have made a discovery that could turn cancer into a treatable disease and remove the fear from a cancer diagnosis.
Despite years of research and billions of pounds of investment, there are no MHRA/FDA-approved drugs for the prevention of metastasis. As a consequence, cancer metastasis remains a mysterious, untreatable, lethal disease.
What is cancer metastasis? Metastasis is what happens when cancer cells spread throughout the body, most often to other organs. Metastasis, more often than not, turns cancer into a terminal disease.
Professor Michael Lisanti and Professor Federica Sotgia, who both work in Translational Medicine at The University of Salford, have designed and tested new inhibitors of cancer metastasis that are based on an existing FDA-approved antibiotic, namely Doxycycline. This breakthrough could ultimately change clinical practice, by adding metastasis prevention, as a new, more effective, weapon in the war on cancer. “
To read the full paper published in Frontiers in Oncology, click here:
New Research conducted at the Translational Medicine Laboratory at the University of Salford. Led by Professor Michael P. Lisanti, MD-PhD, Chair of Translational Medicine and lead scientific advisor of the Healthy Life Foundation.
It is not possible to guarantee that once cancer patients have completed treatment, that the cancer will never come back, or “recur”. Outcomes of recurrence are particularly found in patients with metastatic cancers – cancers that have spread around the body. Unfortunately, around 90% of cancer patients die from metastasis.
As treatment of metastatic cancer is incredibly difficult or costly, attention naturally turns to prevention, which is poorly understood, and there are currently no known MHRA or FDA-approved drugs that can be used for the prevention of metastasis.
The medical community recognise that the growth of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is one of the underlying causes of tumour recurrence, cancer spread, and treatment failure, across different cancer types. Research conducted at the Translational Medicine Laboratory at the University of Salford, has identified five new drug candidates, that effectively inhibit metastasis involving CSCs, in pre-clinical models of human breast cancer, with little or no toxicity. This new approach identified by researchers at the University paves the way for studies leading to a new way to treat cancer patients, allowing for metastasis prevention or prophylaxis.
Most existing chemotherapeutic agents inhibit tumour growth, but not metastasis. The drugs identified here as part of the research inhibit metastasis, having little or no effect on tumour growth. This shows that metastasis is a fundamentally different process than tumour growth.
Professor Michael P. Lisanti, MD-PhD, Chair of Translational Medicine, said: “Our pre-clinical research looked at five mitochondrial inhibitors that were found to have minor or no effect on tumour formation, but had notable effects such as the potent inhibition of tumour cell metastasis. This research shows that mitochondrial inhibitors could be employed to develop new treatment protocols, for clinically providing metastasis prophylaxis, to help prevent poor outcomes in cancer patients.”
The research was co-authored by Dr. Bela Ozsvari, Professor Federica Sotgia and Professor Michael P. Lisanti and was published in the biomedical journal Aging. The paper identifies that in cancer models novel mitochondrial inhibitors prevent metastasis and have the potential to be used as a new strategy for cancer therapy, with very limited toxicity.
SARS-CoV-2 may target senescent cells, which become more common with age –Michael Lisanti, Specialty Chief Editor of Frontiers in Oncology – Cancer Metabolism, on potential targets for the treatment of Covid-19.