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The Irish Cancer Society is committed to establishing and supporting collaborative cancer research, bringing Irish clinicians, scientists and population researchers together to increase the pace of discovery.
The Irish Cancer Society funds a number of collaborative cancer research programmes which focus on personalised cancer treatment. These initiatives are going beyond the laboratory to ask new questions and to look for answers that will ultimately save lives and lead to improved treatments.
BREAST-PREDICT was a country-wide collaboration between experts in the area of breast cancer research, funded by the Irish Cancer Society. This ‘Virtual Centre’ was launched in October 2013 and ran for a period of six years.
BREAST-PREDICT brought together a team of expert Irish researchers from six academic institutions across Ireland: UCD, TCD, RCSI, DCU, NUIG and UCC, as well as nationwide clinical trials group Cancer Trials Ireland. As a multi-disciplinary centre it united breast cancer experts with different skills to work towards a common goal.
The centre collected information and tumour samples from nearly every breast cancer patient in the country, with their consent. Using these valuable resources, researchers improved understanding of how this disease can spread and become resistant to treatment, and tested ways to combat this with new and better therapies.
More than 3,400 patients joined nine BREAST-PREDICT-affiliated clinical and translational studies across 13 Irish hospitals. These patients consented to their samples being used for research studies. These trials were run through Cancer Trials Ireland. Patients and the public can access information on them through cancertrials.ie.
BREAST-PREDICT currently have 7 breast cancer diagnostic tests in development, and 17 novel drug therapies in testing, some reaching clinical trial phase.
BREAST-PREDICT was pivotal, together with other key entities, in the launch of a new Irish biobank of data that marks a major step forward in breast cancer research here. The National Breast Cancer Resource contains tissue, blood, DNA and RNA samples provided by breast cancer patients. The database currently holds information for more than 7,000 breast cancer cases. Cancer researchers in Ireland and elsewhere can request access to these specimens through nationalbreastcancerresource.ie, so as to generally advance knowledge in the breast cancer area.
Its 50-plus researchers have produced 134 BREAST-PREDICT scientific publications to date, comprising of 94 original and 40 review articles published in high-profile journals, several of which describe promising research advances likely to improve patient care.
The BREAST-PREDICT team worked to ensure that this important work will continue long after the Irish Cancer Society’s initial six-year investment. Already, more than €55 million in additional funding has been leveraged from other sources in academia, industry and state and EU grants, while its researchers and staff have been given training, education and career development support to the next generation of Irish cancer research leaders.
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