Applying Cutting Edge Technology to Prevent Cancer Progression

Lorraine Smith, PhD Student, Peter Browne, PPI Representative, Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan, Trinity St. James’s Cancer Institute

Today on World Barrett’s Oesophagus Day, Thursday May 16th, researchers behind the recently established Breakthrough Cancer Research AllCaN-Oesophageal Network have announced they are working on a new treatment at the bench which aims to target inflammation in people with Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition affecting the food pipe.

Barrett’s Oesophagus is characterised by a transformation in the cells lining the oesophagus due to exposure to acid reflux and various stressors, which can increase the risk of these cells becoming more damaged and possibly turning cancerous over time. People with Barrett’s oesophagus can progress to 2 stages, either dysplasia (abnormal cells/not cancer) or oesophageal cancer.

Traditionally, patients with Barrett’s that have progressed to dysplasia undergo procedures such as ablation therapy to remove damaged tissue or abnormal cells. This thermal approach needs to be carefully applied to avoid damaging the muscles and some post-procedure complications can occur. Following patient consent, Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan’s team in collaboration with Mirai Medical (Declan Soden, CEO), are examining in the lab if treating Barrett’s disease patient tissue with electroporation can reduce inflammation and alter immune cell biology. This technique utilises pulses of electricity to target affected cells while preserving healthy tissue, potentially revolutionising care for individuals with this condition. This technology is non-thermal and doesn’t destroy the underlying healthy tissue. As the number of Barrett’s patients are increasing, this innovative treatment may represent a paradigm shift in early intervention and prevention of oesophageal cancer.

Dr. Frances Drummond, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan, Trinity St. James’s Cancer Institute, Peter Browne, PPI Representative, Lorraine Smith, PhD Student.

This innovative work is part of the Breakthrough Cancer Research AllCaN-Oesophageal network, a unique network of scientist, clinicians, industry partners and patient groups on the island of Ireland, focused on accelerating discoveries across the oesophageal cancer patient journey from cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Breakthrough Cancer Research has allocated €1 million in funding, with co-support from industry and other charities such as the Oesophageal Cancer Fund and CROSS, to deliver impact for people with Barrett’s and Oesophageal cancer.

Commenting on the new research, Dr. Declan Soden, CEO of Mirai Medical, expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, ‘Our partnership with AllCaN marks a significant step towards advancing treatment options for Barrett’s Oesophagus patients. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, we aim to mitigate inflammation and improve patient outcomes.’

Orla Dolan CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research said, ‘We have championed the potential of electroporation for many years which has progressed clinical trials in colorectal cancer, fostered the development of ground-breaking tools like the EndoVE® device to deliver electroporation, and have seen the transformative impact it can have on the treatment of skin cancer. It’s truly exciting to witness this technology now being harnessed to prevent cancers from developing.’

Speaking about his own experience Peter Browne (Public Patient Involvement Rep) said, ‘Because I was identified as having Barrett’s Oesophagus, I was fortunate to have been closely monitored and caught at a very early stage as a result. The medical team was able to act on changes before things became even more serious. I think this research is so important for patients as the AllCaN-Oesophageal team are exploring so many ways to identify those most at risk of progressing and ways to halt it.’

For more information about the Breakthrough Cancer Research AllCaN-Oesophageal Network, please visit

Lorraine Smith, PhD Student, Prof. Jacintha O’Sullivan, Trinity St. James’s Cancer Institute

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