Covid Slows Some Cancer Lab Work, But Testing Continues

The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed the progress of cancer research that has taken place over the past two decades, but some clinical trials have continued despite the limits of the pandemic – according to the Cork-based oncologist, Dr Richard Bambury.

Dr Bambury said Irish Medical Time that in cancer research, while laboratory work suffered due to the demands of social distancing, numerous clinical trials – including those conducted at Cork University Hospital – continued to proceed, which had increased the options for patients.

This meant that the treatments that had just been discovered over the past two years were available to patients with no other options, and it was quite an achievement during that time, despite the challenges.

Dr Bambury said that while cancer survival rates in the 1990s were 40%, they are now 60% and increasing – mainly due to research and new treatments. He said research was the most important tool to improve cancer survival rates and welcomed the announcement of more investment in the field announced today, which is World Cancer Day. cancer research.

The Breakthrough Cancer Research charity has announced an investment of € 250,000 in two new doctoral scholarships to be celebrated today. The two scholarships – one based in Dublin and the other in Cork – will explore new treatment options for brain cancer (glioma) and esophageal cancer.

The association also underlined the urgent need to invest more in funding research in Ireland. “More research means more survivors, so we’re thrilled to announce two new PhD scholarships that will hopefully create new treatment options for people with brain and esophageal cancer, which have a low survival rate. Our goal is to create more survival opportunities to give more hope – only cancer research can get us there, which is in urgent need of more funding, ”said Orla Dolan, CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research .

Seán Dorgan, 70, an esophageal cancer survivor and native of Dun Laoghaire, said when he started having chest spasms shortly after his 60th birthday he thought it was a form of cold or flu, and didn’t associate it with eating or swallowing – which he finds strange in hindsight. After six weeks he presented to his GP and within two weeks he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

“I Google searched for the term and immediately regretted it – the prognosis was horrible. 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 I didn’t need to learn more about the internet; instead, I would go to the specialists who would do their best, even if the odds didn’t seem good.

“It has been 10 years since my diagnosis and I have regained an excellent quality of life thanks to the cancer research and excellent medical care I received at St. James Hospital. Researchers are seeking to better understand the causes of cancer, the best ways to treat them, and how to improve the quality of life for people in treatment, remission and recovery. I benefited from this knowledge. I was healed. I hope many more will be too.

Both scholarships were awarded to Patricia Flynn at University College Cork and Maitiú Ó Murchú at Trinity College Dublin.

Patricia received the Musgrave Doctoral Fellowship, in association with Breakthrough Cancer Research, 2021. Her research will focus on finding a personalized treatment for glioblastoma, the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor, which has only one rate. 5% survival rate after five years. She will focus on the relationship between glioblastoma and retinoic acid, which can promote or stop cancer growth. Its goal is to identify pathways that suppress the growth of glioblastoma and prevent its recurrence. Patricia says: “There are too many question marks around the treatment of glioblastoma. I want to eliminate some of the question marks and make full stops.

Maitiú Ó Murchú received the 2021 Breakthrough Cancer Research Doctoral Fellowship for new research on esophageal cancer, cancer of the food pipe. Only 20% of the 450 people diagnosed with the disease each year in Ireland are alive after 5 years. His research will examine why radiation has no effect on reducing tumor size before surgery for 70% of patients. Maitiú will examine whether this is due to the lack of oxygen in the tumor and whether the increased oxygen levels by injecting Oxygel, an oxygen-carrying gel into the tumor, can cause the tumor to shrink. This could ultimately make esophageal treatment more effective.

Breakthrough Cancer Research is Ireland’s leading cancer research charity. They are working with researchers and scientists on exciting developments in cell therapy, immunotherapy, surgical alternatives, and personalized medicine that will improve survival rates and minimize side effects of current treatments. He has established partnerships with experts from a number of global centers of research excellence including cancer research at UCC, Conway Institute UCD, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Weill Cornell Medical College (New York), Royal Marsden (UK), Wilmot Cancer Institute (Rochester, NY), University of Copenhagen and the Center for Surgical Science (DK). The aim is to substantially increase this collaboration if funding and resources were available. However, Breakthrough currently relies entirely on donations from the public.

Today, on World Cancer Research Day, Breakthrough calls on everyone to play their part in a cancer-free future. Help us buy back futures on or call 021 422 6655.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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