Irish patients with blood cancer are the first worldwide to take part in a new drug trial to develop more effective treatment for multiple myeloma, a potentially fatal condition.
Researchers at NUI Galway are carrying out the clinical trial for patients who will be treated with a new combination of drugs that is hoped will save lives.
Each year in Ireland, about 250 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 170 die from the disease.
Phase 1 of the clinical trial will investigate whether the addition of a multiple myeloma treatment, daratumumab (Dara), to a standard care chemotherapy containing the drugs cyclophosphamide and bortezomib (CyBorD), is beneficial for treating newly diagnosed patients.
Dara by itself is a promising new therapy for this particular cancer and has recently been approved for treating relapsed patients.
This trial is the first study worldwide to combine Dara with cyclophosphamide and will determine whether this combination results in a more effective treatment.
Blood Cancer Network Ireland has already recruited six patients at University Hospital Galway and Cork University Hospital, and the study will soon be extended to BCNI centres in Dublin,in order to give myeloma patients nationwide access to the trial.
BCNI is a €2.7m cancer research and clinical trials initiative funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Science Foundation Ireland which brings together experts across Galway, Cork, and Dublin.
The first homegrown trial to be conducted by BCNI, it is the culmination of collaborative research efforts between BCNI scientists and Janssen pharmaceuticals which show that cyclophosphamide treatment can potentially make Dara more effective.
Michael O’Dwyer, BCNI director, lead investigator, and a consultant haematologist at NUI Galway, said: “It is an exciting time for blood cancer research in Ireland. This new trial, a first for BCNI, is another step forward in developing new treatment options for patients living with multiple myeloma.
“The successful launch of the study is a testament to our shared commitment to finding better treatment options for patients through clinical trials.”
That view was echoed by Robert O’Connor, head of research at the Irish Cancer Society, who praised the work of BCNI’s researchers.
“This latest clinical trial highlights the importance of investing in world class innovative and potentially life-changing Irish cancer research,” said Dr O’Connor.
“We hope that the patients taking part will help identify even more improvements in care and outcomes for this disease.
“The Irish Cancer Society is proud to be partnering with Science Foundation Ireland on the funding of BCNI, ensuring that Irish blood cancer patients benefit from the latest advances in cancer care and treatment.
“Ireland has many world- class cancer researchers but it’s only through the public’s generous donations that we can continue to invest in such vital cancer research. For that, we thank the public, and hope that they can continue to support us this Daffodil Day, March 24.”
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