Improving radiation resistance in oesophageal cancer using a novel thermoresponsive hydrogel ‘Oxygel’.

                                                      Maitiú Ó Murchú

Patients with oesophageal cancer can be treated with radiation prior to surgery. Radiation treatment is given to reduce tumour size prior to surgery. Unfortunately, up to 70% of these patients do not respond, and their tumour can actually increase in size at the time of surgery due to their non-response to radiation. This project aims to test if this non-response to radiation is due to a lack of oxygen in the tumour, and to see if can we fix this by increasing oxygen levels using the novel hydrogel, Oxygel, an oxygen-carrying gel which can be injected into the tumour.

This project will begin by growing oesophageal cancer cells which are resistant to radiation in the laboratory. These radiation resistant cells will then be treated with the oxygen-carrying component of our new gel, Oxygel. These experiments will allow us to preliminarily assess the action of Oxygel on these cells, providing information regarding the following: How does Oxygel affect the metabolism and survival of these cancer cells? How long should we treat the cells with Oxygel to see these effects? What doses of Oxygel are most optimal for these cells? Does Oxygel have inherent anti-cancer properties?

With an approximate 20% survival rate, oesophageal cancer is a dismal cancer with unmet clinical needs. New treatment options are urgently required for the approximate 450 annual oesophageal cancer patients in Ireland, and their families and friends. This summer research project, funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research, will contribute towards a pre-clinical data package which aims to position Oxygel as a new treatment option for oesophageal cancer patients, particularly for those who do not respond to radiation treatment.



Start year
End year
Principal Investigator
Prof Jacintha O’Sullivan (Trinity College Dublin) & Prof Helena Kelly (Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland).
Maitiú Ó Murchú
Trinity College Dublin
Grant Funding
Inaugural Breakthrough Summer Scholarship
Linked To Breakthrough Cancer Research Priorities
1, 3, 5

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