Feb 03 2023 Posted: 23:59 GMT

According to figures from the Irish Cancer Society, almost 43,500 people in Ireland receive a cancer diagnosis each year.

On a global scale, more than one-third of cancer cases can be prevented, while another third can be cured if detected early and treated correctly. We can save millions of lives every year by implementing resource-appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment.

Through investing in research and innovation, we have witnessed extraordinary breakthroughs in medicine, diagnostics, and scientific knowledge, and we now know more about cancer than ever before.

But there is more work to be done. The more we know, the more progress we can make in reducing risk factors, increasing prevention and improving cancer diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and care.

Here is a snapshot of some cancer research currently underway at CÚRAM.

Adrienne Gorman’s research is focused on cell death and survival signalling, with a particular interest in cell survival signalling that is mediated by activation of cell stress response pathways. Adrienne has developed a strong expertise in cellular stress response pathways, including the heat shock response and the unfolded protein response. Cells normally exhibit low basal activation of these pathways, but they can be constitutively activated in cancer cells to promote survival. Adrienne’s research has broad relevance and has potential implications for the treatment of a range of diseases including cancers.

Afshin Samali is a leading cancer biologist with expertise in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and cell death/survival signalling in cancer. His team are working to understand the unfolded protein response (UPR), an adaptive signalling pathway induced by ER stress, to develop targeted anti-cancer therapies. Research published last year in Nature Communications showed a significant breakthrough in their study of aggressive breast cancer. Afshin and his researchers discovered how cells could rewire themselves to have a better chance of surviving and spreading to other sites in the body. They found that a specific cell behaviour adapts the metabolism of triple-negative breast cancer cells, but the research shows that this cell behaviour can be reversed through specialised drugs.

Aideen Ryan’s research focuses on colon cancer immunology and inflammation. She leads a group of researchers whose focus is to understand barriers to the effective use of immunotherapy in advanced colon cancer. As an immunology researcher, Aideen is particularly interested in how immune cells communicate within tumours and could be modelled in a culture dish in 3D. With the advent of immunotherapeutic treatment of cancer, this is likely to be an essential aspect to incorporate into cancer research models.

Eimear Dolan‘s work focuses on developing a soft robotic device to improve the long-term performance of implanted medical devices to counter what is known as the ‘foreign body response’.  When the body senses an implanted foreign object, it constructs protective tissue to defend the body from the foreign object, which can cause implants to fail. Eimear is now working towards developing new medical devices and advanced cell-based therapies to treat chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Her lab team are currently designing a novel active implant to treat ovarian cancer as part of a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Technology Innovation Development Award.

Roisin Dwyer is working on a variety of targeted approaches to diagnose and more accurately treat cancer patients based on their exact type of disease and their own personal biology. Roisin is a CÚRAM Funded Investigator, an associate professor in translational science and a principal investigator in the discipline of surgery at the University of Galway. Her research focus is on breast cancer. Her research team is working to develop targeted treatments that will travel through the bloodstream specifically to the disease site and bypass healthy tissue. This will result in increased potency/impact of the drug and less toxic side effects.

Pau Farràs has developed a number of synthetic routes to prepare new metallacarborane derivatives, functionalised in different cage vertices leading to new functionalities. He has also worked on hybrid semiconductor-molecule systems for light-driven chemical reactions and some of the systems employed have the potential to be used in anticancer therapy.

Sharon Glynn’s research is focused on understanding the role of inflammation in cancer development and progression and has received funding from Science Foundation Ireland, Breast Cancer Now and the Irish Cancer Society. A recent Fulbright Scholar Award recipient, she is currently based at Houston Methodist Hospital Weill Cornell. She is exploring the use of multiplex spatial digital pathology to understand the tumour microenvironment in patients with breast cancer responding to cancer therapy and to identify factors that contribute to successful treatment response. Her Award will also include visiting the Harper Cancer Center at Notre Dame University to build new collaborations.

World Cancer Day, held every 4 February is the global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). By raising worldwide awareness, improving education and catalysing personal, collective and government action, we are all working together to reimagine a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equitable for all - no matter who you are or where you live. 

Created in 2000, World Cancer Day has grown into a positive movement for everyone, everywhere, to unite under one voice to face one of our greatest challenges in history.

Find out more- https://www.worldcancerday.org


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