Agency put €80m in cancer research over past decade

OVER €80 million had been invested in cancer research here over the past decade by the Health Research Board (HRB), a world conference on the life-threatening disease was told in Dublin yesterday.

The HRB is Ireland’s leading agency in supporting and funding research into the disease.

More than 3,000 patients have participated in cancer clinical trials and a further 2,000 in other cancer studies the conference at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) heard.

Dr Susan O’Reilly, director of the National Cancer Control Programme said Ireland could improve its survival rate in many common cancers.

It would take a decade to show the benefits but she firmly believed that if we organised our systems well, this could be achieved.

There was progress to be made but she believed we were on the right path and must be nimble in introducing new technology.

“I know a lot of people feel very happy that we have made significant progress”, said Dr O’Reilly but she warned against becoming complacent as “we are about one third on the way to excellence”.

Commenting that there was no point in producing nice documents about tackling the disease, she said: “You have to be able to deliver and organise along with navigating in the straitened financial times in this country, and even with the huge pressure on the health care system because of scarce resources, you have to make the best of the best.”

President Mary McAleese opened the three-day conference yesterday.

More than 20 experts, including world leaders in the area of cancer research from Canada, Britain, Germany and France will speak.

They are joined by leading experts in Ireland, including Professor of Clinical Oncology at TCD Donal Hollywood and medical oncologist at St James Hospital, Dr John Kennedy.

Chairman of the conference, TCD professor of surgery, John Reynolds, said we were entering an era of personalised medicine based on an understanding of changes in any individual with cancer.

Numerous new targets for cancer therapy were being uncovered along with many promising drugs in use or in pre-clinical testing, Professor Reynolds said.

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