'We don't have enough funds to support them' - Irish Cancer Society can't afford life-saving research

'We don't have enough funds to support them' - Irish Cancer Society can't afford life-saving research
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Researchers with potentially life-saving projects are being turned away every year by the Irish Cancer Society because it has not got enough money to support them.

The charity says it is on track to spend €30m on cancer research in the decade up to 2020 but it would like to be able to invest more money in this area.

“Every year we have to turn away researchers who come to us with potentially life-saving projects, simply because we don't have enough funds to support them,” said its chief executive, Averil Power.

“Unfortunately, this means we may have had to turn down a potential breakthrough or cure. If we're going to stop cancer this has to change," she said.

“In 2019 we intend to invest €2.3m in cancer research, supporting the work of over 100 researchers around the country. This makes us the largest voluntary funder of cancer research in Ireland, but we can still do even more."

Ms Power said this year's Daffodil Day, which takes place later this month, has to be “the biggest one” yet if they were to have enough funds to support researchers.

At the launch of the 2019 research plan, two of the society's recently-funded researchers spoke of the huge impact the charity's support has had on their work to stop cancer.

Dr Emma Allott, a lecturer in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's University Belfast, was awarded prostate cancer research funding in 2016.

“Thanks to the Irish Cancer Society's support, I've been able to find out potential links between cholesterol levels and advanced prostate cancer in men,” said Dr Allott, a Dublin native.

The more we know about why men get advanced prostate cancer, the more we can do to stop it happening in the first place.

Dr Aideen Ryan, a lecturer in tumour immunology in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway received funding from the charity for research into bowel cancer in 2013.

Dr Ryan has worked on finding new ways to treat bowel cancer through immunotherapy – treatments that boost the body's natural defences to fight cancer.

Last night in Dublin, the society honoured Drs Allott and Ryan for their vital work at its research awards which acknowledge the potentially life-saving work of some of the 100-plus cancer researchers it has funded.

Among the award recipients was Susan Nagle, a cancer clinical trials research nurse based at University Hospital Limerick, who was named Research Support Staff of the year.

Ms Nagle was nominated by her colleagues in Cancer Trials Ireland for her work in bridging the gap between patients and clinical trials and striving for the best patient care.

Meanwhile, two top Irish cancer researchers, Profs Owen Smith and Jonathan Bond are working on curing more children and finding gentler treatments.

Both professors are supported in their research by funding from the Children's Medical and Research Foundation, the fund-raising body for Our Lady's Hospital in Dublin.

“We're curing over 90% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia now. But we're doing this at a price, and that price is usually long term toxicities for these children,” said Prof Smith.

Prof Bond said he wanted to identify treatments that would eliminate the leukaemia cell, without harming the child.

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