RCSI and LEO Pharma partner to investigate blood clotting in breast cancer patients

Tuesday, 26 May 2020: RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and LEO Pharma have partnered to better understand the role of a blood clotting protein in the spread of breast cancer.

Cancer patients have a high risk of developing spontaneous blood clots, with up to 20% of cancer patients hospitalised with life-threating complications. As a result, clot formation is the second leading cause of death for all cancer patients.

Tumour cells appear to promote clots within the bloodstream to facilitate cancer spread within the body. Clinical studies suggest that treatment with an anti-clotting agent may improve cancer patient survival by preventing clots as well as reducing the spread of cancer.

The partnership between LEO Pharma and RCSI is now investigating the biological mechanisms that make this possible in breast cancer for the first time.

Anti-clotting agents are currently used in the clinic to manage cancer-associated clotting. However, this research may help in improving the strategies used to treat certain patients, and it could possibly lead to new therapies that would reduce the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body.

“This collaboration, along with the support provided by RCSI Office of Research and Innovation and LEO Pharma, will enable us to address key scientific questions to understand the complex biological processes regulating spread of cancer within the body and is essential to help develop novel therapeutic approaches to help prevent this” said Dr Jamie O’Sullivan, a research lecturer within the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI.

The project has the potential to expand beyond the current programme of work to assess if anti-clotting therapies could be effective for other cancer types.

“LEO Pharma is very much looking forward to the collaboration on this project with a centre of excellence like RCSI. As leaders in cancer associated thrombosis, LEO Pharma strives to identify unmet need for patients and a clear patient focus is at the heart of this research,” said Khalid Aouidat, Vice President of Global Thrombosis Strategy at LEO Pharma.

Following a successful study we hope to be able to expand our collaboration with Dr O’Sullivan in line with the strategic objectives of the RCSI seed fund on other co-funded schemes within this field of research.”

The project was initially funded under the RCSI Strategic Industry Partnership Seed Fund, which was established by the RCSI Innovation Team to provide an innovative and differentiated approach to engaging with relevant industry partners.

“RCSI is delighted to work with LEO Pharma in paving the way forward in our understanding of the underlying mechanics of how breast cancer spreads. Industry partnerships such as these are vital in our success at developing new treatments and ultimately improving the health and wellbeing of patients,” said Professor Fergal O’Brien, RCSI Director of Research and Innovation.

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