Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays pancreatic cancer patient Hayley Cropper, has visited The University of Manchester on a fact-finding mission to look at work being done by scientists to fight the disease.
Julie, who is calling for more funding to support research into pancreatic cancer, met scientists working on a two-year study, funded by the national charity, the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF).
Julie's character Hayley was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and given six months to live in the soap back in September. Since then she has met dozens of families who have lost loved-ones to the cancer and joined a campaign calling for more funding for research.
Julie met Professor Caroline Dive, from The University of Manchester's Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group, who explained how her £150,000 research project is analysing stray tumour cells that circulate in the blood. She hopes it will pave the way to profiling the molecular characteristics of patients' pancreatic tumours from a single blood test. She also met Professor Richard Marais - who heads the research carried out in the University's Paterson Building - on the visit with Maggie Blanks Chief Executive of PCRF.
The Manchester team hope to set up clinical trials to both tailor treatments for individual patients, based on the analysis of their tumour type and monitor the success of their treatment regime.
Julie said: "It's been really exciting to be shown what's happening at the cutting edge of research into pancreatic cancer, and fantastic to see that this research is taking place right here in Manchester. I've learnt so much!
"When I first found out about the storyline I knew very little about pancreatic cancer but since then I've met some wonderful people and have been trying to support more funding for research in this area.
"Pancreatic cancer has worst survival rate of any common cancer - only 3 in every 100 people diagnosed will live beyond 5 years and we need to see more investment so that scientists, like the ones I've met today in Manchester, can continue to make steps forward to find ways to fight this disease."