Monday 18 June 2018

Queen’s University wins £4.6m award for cancer research

Queen's University, PA
Queen's University, PA
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded a £4.6m (€5.1m) tripartite grant to tackle colorectal cancer.

The US-Ireland partnership award provides a unique opportunity to bring together researchers from Queen’s University, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and GE Healthcare in the US, in an interdisciplinary programme of research to develop new approaches to diagnose and treat the deadly disease.

Through the use of technology developed by GE Healthcare, and alongside the RCSI’s expertise in systems medicine, the researchers from Queen’s will comprehensively characterise the gene and protein interactions inside colorectal cancer cells, and use this information to select or stratify patients for particular therapeutic interventions.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Fiona Ginty of GE Healthcare, said that the technology that GE has developed will allow for the examination of tumour tissue samples at a level of detail that has not been possible before.

"Examining multiple proteins and different cell types in a single tissue sample allows us to define more clearly the biology that drives individual tumours.

We are delighted to be working with researchers on the island of Ireland to apply this technology and know it will positively influence patient care," Ms Ginty said.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and it is predicted that the number of cases will rise to 2.4 million diagnosed per year by 2035.

There are a number of treatment options available to colorectal cancer patients and a patient’s response to treatment will depend on the specific type or make-up of the cancer.

As a 'one-size-fits-all' treatment approach does not work for all patients, a more precise understanding of what happens inside colorectal cancer cells is required.

This study will involve the examination of thousands of tumour samples in a bid to develop a diagnostic test that will enable more precise treatment plans for individual patients.

The project is funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D) division of the Public Health Agency Northern Ireland/Medical Research Council and the Science Foundation Ireland/the Health Research Board of Ireland.

"The HSC R&D division in the Public Health Agency, with support from the Medical Research Council, is pleased to be funding this high quality research study.

We expect that the outcomes from this international research will lead to significant advances in the treatment of patients with colorectal cancer in the UK, Ireland and globally," Professor Ian Young, director of HSC R&D, said.

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