herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

Irish women to get first chance in groundbreaking cancer trial

Professor John Crown has overseen the research work
Professor John Crown has overseen the research work

Irish women will be the first in the world to take part in a new trial to treat one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

The clinical study will see women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer being treated with the drug COTI-2 in combination with chemotherapy at St Vincent's University Hospital (SVUH) in Dublin.

It follows groundbreaking research carried out by Dr Naoise Synnott at University College Dublin and SVUH.

Her work was funded by the Irish Cancer Society's Breast-Predict research programme and the Clinical Cancer Research Trust, and details about the new trial will be unveiled today on Daffodil Day.

More than 250 people are diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer each year.

It is often aggressive, difficult to treat and tends to be more common in younger women.

Dr Synnott was supervised by Professor Joe Duffy and Professor John Crown.

Prof Duffy said: "At the moment the only form of drug treatment available to patients with triple-negative breast cancer is chemotherapy.

"While this will work well for some patients, others may find that their cancer cells don't respond as well as might be hoped to chemo, leading to patients suffering the side effects of this treatment without any of the desired outcomes.

"Naoise's laboratory work looked at p53, a gene which is altered in almost all cases of triple-negative breast cancer. She found that the drug COTI-2 is effective at stopping this gene and killing these cancer cells.

"Together with further studies in the US, results proved positive enough for early-stage clinical trials to begin."

It is hoped that the trial, to be funded by Cotinga Pharmaceuticals, will begin recruiting patients later this year.

It will be aimed at women whose triple-negative breast cancer has spread beyond the breast.

It comes as more than 6,000 volunteers take to the streets around the country today for Daffodil Day to help raise crucial funds for people affected by cancer.

Support

With cancer incidence on the rise, the charity said it needs to raise €4m in donations today to meet increased demand for its free support services.

"News like this shows the positive difference cancer research is making for Irish people," said Irish Cancer Society chief executive Averil Power, speaking about the clinical trial development.

"But we want to do more. Every year we have to turn away researchers who come to us with potentially life-saving projects, simply because we don't have enough funds to support them.

"The Irish Cancer Society needs the public's support on Daffodil Day so we can fund more research and push for more trials like this one, which give patients the earliest possible access to medical breakthroughs they so desperately need and which we hope will save more lives."

People can buy pins from a local volunteer or donate at cancer.ie.

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