Researchers go ‘back to school’ in race to stop cancer

The Irish Cancer Society has announced funding for two new major cancer research scholarships, all made possible through the public’s generous support.

Researchers Dr Conor Murphy and John Daly have been awarded grants for their projects which will look at ways to treat cancer and survive and thrive after diagnosis.

Based in NUI Galway, John’s research will search for a new, better way to treat multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Each year in Ireland approximately 250 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 170 people die from the disease.

For a cancer patient, doctors use the patient’s Natural Killer (NK) cells to often destroy cancerous cells in the body, aiding recovery. However, for Multiple Myeloma patients, the cancerous cells are a lot harder to spot. This means that it’s a lot harder for NK cells to kill cancerous cells.

John’s research aims to make the NK cells more powerful and effective in killing these multiple myeloma cells. He’ll aim to do this by changing the way in which these NK cells detect multiple myeloma cells, and making them more effective at killing these cancerous cells.

The results of John’s project will give researchers more knowledge of how multiple myeloma cells interact with our immune systems, and has the potential to lead to clinical trials with patients.

Based between UCD and St James’s Hospital, Dublin, Conor’s research will pioneer a personalised approach to dealing with the harsh effects of treatment which an oesophageal cancer patient can go through. Each year in Ireland almost 400 people are diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus (gullet). Approximately 1,000 people in Ireland are currently living with, or have survived, this cancer.

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