New cancer treatments 'may boost Irish patients more'

Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the biggest cause of cancer death in women in Ireland

By Luke Byrne

LUNG cancer treatments that are currently in the development stage could be of particular benefit to Irish patients, it has emerged.

It comes as a study released by the Irish Cancer Society has suggested that the rate of mutation of a specific gene called PIK3CA is high in the Irish population compared to the international rate.

Treatments that target the mutation of this gene are currently under development and it has now emerged that these could be of particular benefit to Irish lung cancer patients.

The research was funded by the Irish Cancer Society, which said that it uncovered promising new avenues that could lead to novel therapies to improve outcomes for lung cancer patients.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 80pc of lung cancers and despite advances in anti-cancer therapies, the overall survival rate for lung cancer patients remains poor.

The research study announced yesterday, which was led by Dr Susan Heavey and supervisor Dr Kathy Gately, investigated a gene pathway called P13K.

It is known to play a key role in the control of cell growth.

Heightened activity of this pathway has been found to be associated with a more aggressive disease and poorer outcome for patients.

The research identified that a targeted drug called DHMEQ was highly effective at reducing growth of chemotherapy-resistant lung cancer cells.

However, the charity said that further work was required to investigate this finding.


The research group has secured funding from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) to continue the work.

Mutations of the PIK3CA gene were initially investigated in 137 lung cancer patients from the biobank at St James's Hospital.

This was expanded to 1,000 patient samples which researchers said will give a more accurate estimate of the true rate of PIK3CA mutation in Irish lung cancer patients.