Liam Lawson

The race suit worn by Red Bull Junior driver Liam Lawson in the Toyota Racing Series has sold at auction for $4,000 with the proceeds going to the Gut Cancer Foundation.

Lawson, 18, who is currently in Bahrain testing for the upcoming Formula 3 season in Europe, donated his suit at the end of the New Zealand motor racing series.

After loosing a key supporter of his international motor racing campaign to bowel cancer last year, Lawson carried the Gut Cancer Foundation logo on his racing suit and hopes the exposure has helped raise awareness for research into cancers that are diagnosed in 5,100 New Zealanders every year.

“The Gut Cancer Foundation is incredibly grateful to Liam for putting his personal race suit up for auction. His support, coupled with the amazing generosity of the new owner, will help GCF fund research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of gut cancer,” said GCF Executive Officer, Liam Willis.

“This research is vital in our efforts to improve life expectancy, quality of life and survival rates for Kiwi’s with this disease.”

Lawson returned home for the five-round TRS championship after winning the series on debut in 2019, a feat he couldn’t quite match this year after an engine failure and subsequent loss of 31 points saw him finish runner-up after 15 races.

“The awareness raised by Liam and his team makes an invaluable contribution towards our efforts to reduce the number of New Zealanders developing this often overlooked group of cancers,” added Willis.

Each year the Gut Cancer Foundation awards a grant of $50,000 in the form of a Fellowship to support outstanding graduates who are able to combine their clinical work with research, to improve the quality of life and potential survival for people living with a gut cancer.

The current recipient of this award is Dr Janet Rhodes, part of the team led by Dr Roslyn Kemp, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago. Dr Rhodes’ study revolves around the idea of Immunoscoring colorectal cancer tissue samples.
Study Overview and current progress
Immunoscore is a tool for measuring a patient’s immune response to colorectal cancer.  Quantifying immune responses to cancer can be used to provide a more accurate prognosis of the cancer’s stage, and consequently guide treatment plans and provide better outcomes for colorectal cancer patients.

Dr Rhodes’ work aims to ensure the Immunoscore tool is is accurate for our population whilst also working to make the Immunoscore more detailed. So far the team has succeeded in using fluorescence IHC to accurately quantify cell markers that comprise the Immunoscore. They have also used fluorescence IHC to identify the more specific regulatory immune cells expected to improve the accuracy of the Immunoscore.
Future study and it’s significance
The study has now moved on to its final stage; Immunoscoring the cohort of 500 patients.  Detailed immunoscoring will allow better delineation of patients with stage II or III colorectal cancer. Dr Rhodes’ vital research has the potential to add value to this emerging tool by improving its predictive power and refining the techniques so that it can be more easily translated to the diagnostic laboratory. The practical end-goal is more accurate prognoses and improved targeting of treatment including:

identifying those at high risk of relapse and
identifying patients in whom adjuvant therapy (surgery) is not necessary

We are incredibly grateful to our friends at Cumulo9 for their fantastic support of the Gut Cancer Foundation. Cumulo9 have generously welcomed the GCF team into their central Auckland office as well as providing access to their amazing C9 Campaign and C9 Signature products, completely free of charge.

Experts in digital solutions, Cumulo9 proudly provides complete omnichannel world-class business solutions for organisations. C9 Signature allows companies to implement dynamic, consistent email signatures and banners across their entire organisation, with all details personalised to the sender. C9 Campaign is an easy to use email system that lets you create forms, add database segments, edit images on-the-fly, link to Google Analytics, social media, and schedule sends.

GCF Executive Officer Liam Willis said:

“Cumulo9 have a long history of supporting the Gut Cancer Foundation having been a generous sponsor of our GastroFest gala dinner in the past. This next stage take our relationship to the next level with the kind of partnership is invaluable for any charity. Cumulo9 are giving the GCF team access to quality surroundings and vital, world class software, whilst keeping overheads to a minimum, ensuring more funds are available for world class research and awareness raising. We are hugely grateful for their support.”