World Cancer Day: 4th February 2015 – ‘Not beyond us’

Breakthrough Cancer Research will be joining others around the world to mark World Cancer Day on February 4th with the tag line “Not Beyond Us” and the day will take a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer and that they are within our reach.

36,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually in Ireland and despite significant increases in the numbers of people surviving cancer and treatment options available, 8,800 people will die because the treatments to save their lives have not been discovered, yet!

pr98373_[1]_Breakthrough Cancer Research Principal InvestigatorsBreakthrough Cancer Research scientists are building a worldwide reputation for cutting edge research into hard to treat cancers, cancers with the lowest survival rates, which include Lung, Skin, Ovarian and Oesophageal, as well as secondary Breast and Prostate cancer.

The major struggle says Declan Soden, Principal Investigator and General Manager with Breakthrough Cancer Research is fundraising, “Scientists can only move forward with our research if we have funding – funding that we can depend on for the duration of the projects”.

“The sad fact is that one in three of us will face cancer in our lifetimes. It affects us all. Our scientists are working on cutting edge cancer research with a focus on hard to treat cancers that have a low survival rate – that means we are breaking new ground together – precisely where it is needed the most”.

Three areas Breakthrough Cancer Research are working on include: 

Dr Sharon McKenna, Principal Investigator at the Research Centre leads a team who are investigating why some cancer cells can resist drug treatment and re-emerge. The team are looking at new ways to improve the treatment of cancer and prevent its reoccurrence


Dr Mark Tangney, Principal Investigator at the Research Centre is internationally recognised as an expert in gene therapy. He and his team are developing a new approach that could be used to treat several cancers with low survival rates.

  • In the lab, probiotic bacteria are engineered to produce proteins called ‘therapeutics’ on contact with cancerous tumours.
  • The bacteria pass through healthy tissues and ‘camp’ in cancerous tumours.
  • The bacteria multiply, producing proteins that destroy the tumour from within, whilst also triggering the immune system to target and destroy the tumour. The tumours are targeted and destroyed leaving the patient free of cancer.


Dr Declan Soden, is a Principal Investigator at BCR and he has been involved in the development of innovative minimally invasive approaches to target cancer and in the application of immunotherapy to the treatment of cancer patients.

  • Dr Soden working with Mr John Hinchion, lung surgeon at CUH has developed a new device to help with the treatment of lung, liver or pancreatic tumours.
  • The developed technology delivers a short burst of electrical energy to the tumour making it ‘leaky’ for a few hours and increasing the tumours chemotherapy drug absorption up to 1000 fold.
  • As a result LESS drug is required and the patient doesn’t suffer from typical chemo side effects.
  • But what is even more significant is the immune response triggered by the electrical pulses against the cancer.
  • In combination with new next generation immunotherapies this treatment can improve the patients immune response against the cancer with a clinical trial commencing shortly on this combination with patients with malignant melanoma.
  • An immunogene therapy developed by Dr Sodens group is also under trial in the US with vetenarians in dogs with cancers of poor prognosis.

“In 2014 it was evident that survival rates for cancer patients are improving, (National Cancer Registry). These statistics highlight that overall cancer survival rates have increased, research contributes considerably to this. However stubborn cancers such as lung, pancreatic and melanomas continue to rise. These statistics reinforce our decision to angle our research on the most difficult to treat cancers and we are on the cusp of delivering new treatment options for patients with malignant melanoma, lung and oesophageal. The treatment and cures for cancer are definitely ‘Not Beyond Us’ concludes Dr Soden.

Breakthrough Cancer Research’s work is vital because 36,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually in Ireland, and despite significant increases in the numbers of people surviving cancer and treatment options available, 8,800 people will die because the treatments to save their lives have not been discovered, yet! Breakthrough Cancer Research funds the efficient and effective development of new treatments for cancer.  They work to significantly impact the number of people who can survive this disease.  Research programmes funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research must focus on translating lab discoveries into new treatment opportunities.  To this end they work closely with clinicians in practice all over Ireland so that their research is targeted at finding new options for poor prognosis and incurable cancers.

Breakthrough Cancer Research was established as an official fundraising body for the National Research Programmes administered by Cork Cancer Research Centre. It builds on their history of over 15 years of research into cancer leading to more than 5 clinical trials and aims to better reflect the national and international impact of their work.  It exists to inspire and enable financial support from the community for exceptional research leading to more effective treatments for patients in Ireland and beyond.

Monies raised through Breakthrough Cancer Research are used to support focused research programmes, directly fund scientists and purchase laboratory consumables.  It will enhance facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and ensure that all cancer patients throughout Ireland have the opportunity to access the most up to date and effective treatment for their disease.

There is hope and that hope is in research.


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