Award-winning communications and marketing agency, Pelican Communications, hopes to help Crohn’s Disease by throwing its support behind a potentially lifesaving new vaccine.
Professor John Hermon-Taylor, a molecular scientist, retired surgeon and internationally renowned Crohn’s Disease expert based at King’s College London has been researching Mycobacterium Avium subspecies Paratuberculosis (MAP) and its relationship to Crohn’s for more than 30 years.
He believes he is now on the verge of a momentous and potentially life-saving breakthrough which could cure Crohn’s – which affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK – altogether.
World-leading vaccinology institute, The Jenner Institute, Oxford – who also developed the Ebola Vaccine – have completed manufacture of the vaccine.
Now in order to carry out successful clinical trials, Prof Hermon-Taylor and his team need to raise around £170,000 and recruit 20 healthy volunteers aged between 18-50 years living within striking distance of Oxford to help test the vaccine in a Phase I trial, due to begin in September 2016.
That’s where Pelican come in. At the company’s annual team meeting, staff were asked to take part in a new Dragon’s Den-style initiative, pitching to their colleagues for their support for a cause close to their heart.
This year’s winner was the company’s commercial associate director, Wendy Brown, who herself has Crohn’s and has been involved in Prof Hermon-Taylor’s research.
She persuaded colleagues to give up their time for free each month to help put together a communications campaign to help Prof Hermon-Taylor and his team secure the volunteers and raise the money they need.
Pelican Managing Director, Michael Bennett, said: “Wendy made a fantastic pitch to the team about a cause which is very close to her heart and we’re delighted to offer our support.
“We sincerely hope we can make a real difference and encourage people to come forward and donate or volunteer.
“A range of people from across the business will get involved and help support Prof Hermon-Taylor and his team.”
Wendy added: “I have had Crohn’s disease for half of my life, during this time I have had many people tell me what they think would cure my Crohns.
“However, the MAP vaccine is the only one with any scientific evidence and the one I truly believe in.”
MAP is known to cause a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease very like Crohn’s in many different animals, notably dairy cows.
Historically, MAP in humans has been difficult to study as it cannot be seen under an ordinary microscope and is very difficult to grow.
However, Prof Hermon-Taylor has developed a new diagnostic test which enables researchers to see MAP in-situ in Crohn’s disease tissues – in intricate detail – for the very first time. It can also be used to detect MAP in the bloodstream.
This simple blood test is needed to partner the Vaccine during the trial, allowing doctors to confirm MAP infection prior to vaccination and to monitor patients’ responses to the vaccine.
The completion of this final piece of the puzzle is currently under way at King’s College London – funding is required to complete this vital work.
To volunteer to take part in the trials at the Jenner Institute, visit www.ovg.ox.ac.uk/lists/?p=subscribe
To learn more about the vaccine or to donate to work on the test at KCL, visit www.crohnsmapvaccine.com.