April 3, 2019

Researcher in Focus - Amy Buckley

This month’s Researcher in Focus is Amy Buckley. Amy completed her BSc in Pharmacology at University College Dublin in 2015. After completion of her undergraduate studies Amy was awarded an Irish Cancer Society Scholarship to carry out her PhD studies in the Department Of Surgery, Trinity College Dublin. Her research focuses on the identification of new drugs to improve response to radiation therapy in oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC). 

Oesophageal cancer is a cancer of your food pipe, the pipe which connects your mouth to your stomach. It is of great concern that there has been a large rise in the number of people who get diagnosed with this type of cancer. In the past 15 years, there has been a 48% rise in new cases of oesophageal cancer in Ireland and the western world. 

Patients with this disease undergo treatment which may include radiation prior to surgery to decrease tumour size to make surgery more successful and to improve overall survival rates. Only 20-30% of patients have a complete response to treatment prior to surgery, so there are big opportunities to improve outcome for the 70-80% of patients. 

Growing tumours require a blood supply and energy from cells to fuel their growth. Tumour cells which fail to respond to radiation therapy are often linked with a large blood supply and higher energy production levels. Amy’s research aims to develop new drugs which will reduce both blood vessel growth and energy production in tumour cells to boost the response of patients to radiation treatment. Amy’s research also aims to further understand the factors controlling the response of patients to radiation and further improve the response of patients to radiation with new drugs.

Recently Amy has published some of her exciting results in scientific journals where she has shown how she identified a drug which can improve response to radiation in oesophageal cancer. This drug is currently in the very early stages of testing and thanks to the kind donations of tumour tissue from patients with oesophageal cancer, Amy hopes to continue her research into the action of this drug in the future. Amy will complete her PhD studies later this year. 

Amy Buckley's latest journal article Characterisation of an Isogenic Model of Cisplatin Resistance in Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma Cells was published in Pharmaceuticals in February 2019