To celebrate World Cancer Research Day, Breakthrough Cancer Research has announced over a quarter of a million euro investment in two new PhD Scholarships, one in Dublin and one in Cork to investigate new treatment options for brain cancer (glioma) and oesophageal cancer.

As the funders of much of the world-class, cutting-edge cancer research in Ireland, Breakthrough Cancer Research say that they are delighted that there is a day dedicated to acknowledging the importance of research in the fight against cancer.  However, the charity also stresses the urgent need for more investment in research funding in Ireland.

Commenting, Orla Dolan CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research, said, “More research means more survivors, so we are delighted to announce two new PhD Scholarships that will hopefully create new treatment options for those with brain cancer and oesophageal cancer, which have low survival rates.  Every year in Ireland, people diagnosed with these diseases and other cancers are told that there is no more hope, which no one should be told.   Our goal is to create more opportunities for survival to give more hope – only cancer research can get us there, which urgently needs more funding.”

The two scholarships have been awarded to Patricia Flynn at University College Cork and Maitiú Ó Murchú at Trinity College Dublin.

Patricia was awarded the Musgrave PhD Scholarship, in association with Breakthrough Cancer Research, 2021.  Her research will focus on finding a personalised treatment for Glioblastoma, the most frequently diagnosed brain tumour, which only has a 5% survival rate after 5 years.  She will focus on the relationship between glioblastoma and retinoic acid, which can either promote or stop cancer growth.  Her aim is to identify the pathways that suppress the growth of glioblastoma and prevents its reoccurrence.  Patricia says “there are too many question marks around the treatment of glioblastoma. I want to take away some of the question marks and make full stops.”

Maitiú Ó Murchú has been awarded the Breakthrough Cancer Research PhD Scholarship 2021 for new research into Oesophageal cancer, a cancer of the food pipe.  Only 20% of the 450 people diagnosed with this disease annually in Ireland are alive after 5 years.  His research will investigate why radiation has no effect on reducing the size of a tumour before surgery for 70% of patients.  Maitiú will examine if this is because there is a lack of oxygen in the tumour, and if increasing oxygen levels by injecting Oxygel, an oxygen-carrying gel into the tumour. can cause the tumour to shrink.  This could ultimately make oesophageal treatment will be more successful.

Oesophageal cancer survivor Seán Dorgan (70, from Dun Laoghaire), said that when he started having chest spasms shortly after his 60th birthday, he thought it was some form of chest cold, or flu, and didn’t associate it with eating or swallowing, which he finds odd with hindsight.  After 6 weeks, he presented himself to his GP and within a fortnight he had a diagnosis of oesophageal cancer.

“I googled the term and instantly regretted it – the prognosis was horrendous. Apparently only one in five would survive for five years. The most immediate question for me was: would I be dead in three months, or six, or twelve months?

“I decided that I did not need to know much more from the internet; rather, I would put myself in the care of the specialists who would do their best, even if the chances did not seem good.

“It has been 10 years since my diagnosis, and I am back to having an excellent quality of life thanks to cancer research and the excellent medical care I received at St. James’s.  Researchers are seeking to better understand the causes of cancers, the ways in which they can best be treated, and how quality of life can be improved for those in treatment, in remission and in recovery. I benefited from that knowledge. I was cured. My hope is that many more will be too.”

Breakthrough Cancer Research is Ireland’s leading cancer research charity.  They work with researchers and scientists on exciting developments in cell-therapy, immuno-therapy, surgery alternatives and personalised medicine which will improve survival rates and minimise side effects of current treatments.  It has partnerships in place with experts from a number of worldwide centres of research excellence including Cancer Research at UCC, the Conway Institute UCD,  Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Weill Cornell Medical College (New York), Royal Marsden (UK), the Wilmot Cancer Institute (Rochester, NY), University of Copenhagen and Centre for Surgical Science (DK).  The aim is to substantially increase this collaboration if funding and resources were available.  However, Breakthrough is currently entirely reliant on donations from the public.

Today, on World Cancer Research Day, Breakthrough is calling on everyone to play their part in a future free from cancer.  Help buy back futures by donating today.

#MakeMoreSurvivors #WorldCancerResearchDay #ResearchWorks.

Project Summaries:

Identification of therapeutically relevant tumour-associated alterations of the RA signalling pathway in glioblastoma – Breakthrough Cancer ResearchBreakthrough Cancer Research

Boosting oxygen diffusion in the radioresistant Oesophageal tumour microenvironment to improve radiation response – Breakthrough Cancer ResearchBreakthrough Cancer Research


Donate Now