A RESEARCH project set up in memory of a young Aspatria woman has contributed to a new cancer drug breakthrough.

Emma Gyles died of ovarian cancer when she was just 24.

Following her death, her family set up the Emma Gyles Bursary to fund a medical student to research ovarian cancer for a year.

More than 10 years later, this work has helped make a new ovarian cancer drug available to patients across the UK, increasing their chances of survival.

The medication, called olaparib, has been shown to be effective in women with a generic form of the disease and has been described by many as a game-changer.

It is part of a family of ovarian cancer drugs that have been researched by Emma Gyles Bursary students over the years.

Richard Edmondson, professor of gynaecology and oncology at the University of Manchester, leads the bursary scheme.

He said that, over the years, bursary students have been carrying out work on these drugs.

They believe other ovarian cancer patients could benefit in future, not just the 25 per cent with a genetic link, and are trying to establish exactly who they are.

He said: “Some of the work we have done has helped with the development of this drug. Now the work we are doing could well extend it to more women.

“We have identified another 25 per cent of patients that the drug should work for.”

In the past 10 years, the Emma Gyles Bursary has raised a total of about £86,000 in her memory.

Emma’s dad Ken said: “This breakthrough is fantastic and we have helped. Even though we lost Emma at a young age, we have tried to make a negative a positive. Having her name associated with this research, although it will never bring her back, it makes us very proud.

“The bursary continues. We have enough funds for next year and are looking to raise more. We are always looking for support if anyone wants to help.”