An Irish person has become the first in the world to take part in a new drug trial for patients with the blood cancer 'multiple myeloma'.
The clinical trial - run by Blood Cancer Network Ireland - is aimed at those with the disease who respond poorly to standard treatment.
There are around 1,500 people in Ireland living with blood cancer - which account for about 10% of cancer deaths.
The drug was first tested in Ireland, the US and Australia in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia and early results are very promising for treating patients with this form of blood cancer. Blood Cancer Network Ireland will now lead the way in evaluating whether the therapy is also effective in patients with multiple myeloma.
The GMI-1271 trial for multiple myeloma patients will also open in University Hospital Galway where Professor Michael O’Dwyer (Director of Blood Cancer Network Ireland) is leading the study.
Commenting on the new trial, Professor O’Dwyer said:
“This new clinical trial highlights the huge strides in cancer research and clinical trials which Blood Cancer Network Ireland has been a part of since our establishment in November 2015.
“There are approximately 1,500 people in Ireland living with blood cancer. Blood cancers account for about 10% of cancer deaths and it is the relapsed drug resistant cancer that is the cause of most deaths. The fact that this new trial provides hope for multiple myeloma patients is an exciting development that puts Blood Cancer Network Ireland at the forefront of blood cancer research on a global scale.”
Consultant haematologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dr John Quinn, joined Blood Cancer Network Ireland in February of this year after the Irish Cancer Society committed to an increased investment of €450,000 over the next five years to support the expansion of the network into Mater and Beaumont Hospitals.
Speaking on his entry into the network, Dr Quinn said at the time: “We have been developing our clinical trial practice in haematology at Beaumont over the past five years, however, this major investment by the Irish Cancer Society will open up even greater access to blood cancer clinical trials and the latest treatments for our patients, and also strengthen the network as whole”.
Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, Dr Robert O’Connor, welcomed this new Phase 1 clinical trial and praised the work of researchers linked to Blood Cancer Network Ireland: “The work being carried out by this country-wide network of clinicians, scientists, and population health experts highlights the importance of investing in such innovative and potentially life-changing cancer research.
“The Irish Cancer Society is proud to be partnering with Science Foundation Ireland on the funding of Blood Cancer Network Ireland, ensuring that Irish blood cancer patients benefit from the latest advances in cancer care and treatment.”
Each year in Ireland approximately 250 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 170 succumb to their disease.
In the past a multiple myeloma diagnosis meant that a patient could only expect to survive for three to five years, with chemotherapy the only treatment available.