€40m grants to fund study of cancer relapse and medicinal uses of coral
A study aimed at easing the aggressive treatment used to treat breast and prostate cancer while preventing relapse is among a raft of major scientific research projects that have been given the green light.
The project - which is spearheaded by UCD professor Catherine Godson - is among 24 winning projects announced by Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Mary Mitchell-O'Connor yesterday that have been earmarked for €40m in research funding.
Ms Godson's team will receive more than €2.5m in funding.
This will enable them to develop two clinical tests which will indicate the likelihood of tumours reoccurring following surgery.
The study aims to address a problem facing oncologists in which breast and prostate cancer patients are often given more aggressive treatment than necessary.
This occurs despite the fact that tumours can now be diagnosed at an earlier stage due to improvements in screening programmes.
Many early-stage cancers are unlikely to return following surgery.
However, some cancers do return because doctors cannot currently distinguish between low-risk and high-risk tumours.
Another project that will receive funding involves searching the coral beds of the Atlantic.
The project will explore the pharmacological potential of coral from the Atlantic off the Irish coast.
Dr Louise Allcock of the Marine Institute at NUI Galway, is leading a team of researchers who will be analysing samples of coral and sponge to see if they contain beneficial properties that can be used in medicine.
The €1.9m project will see researchers extract compounds from coral over the next five years.
Researchers will examine the coral and sea sponges to see whether "extreme environmental conditions promote the evolution of novel compounds".