Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI)

Clinical research network for blood cancers brings fresh hope for Irish patients

A €2.7 million cancer research and clinical trials initiative is bringing fresh hope for blood cancer patients in Ireland.

Funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Science Foundation Ireland, Blood Cancer Network Ireland (BCNI) will give blood cancer patients in Ireland the opportunity to be among the first in the world to test new, potentially life-changing drugs and treatments through early stage clinical trials.

Blood cancer is a term for cancers which affect the cells or the blood or organs where blood cells grow and develop in the bone marrow and lymphatic system. There are three main types of blood cancer - leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

There are more than 1,900 cases of blood cancers diagnosed each year in Ireland. Blood cancers make up approximately 10% of all cancers and are the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Ireland.

BCNI Clinical Trials

Since beginning in 2014, BCNI has grown to provide Irish blood cancer patients access to novel and innovative cancer treatments through early phase clinical trials (Phase I/II) in cancer care centres in Galway, Cork and Dublin.

Clinical trials are designed to develop and test new and improved ways to treat cancer patients; help prevent a return of cancer; and improve comfort and quality of life for people with cancer. Advances in treatments for blood cancers depend on clinical trials of new therapies or new combinations of therapies. Many of these trials will be conducted in collaboration with Cancer Trials Ireland.

BCNI Biobank and Registry

BCNI will also collect information and samples from blood cancer patients in order to improve our understanding of blood cancers and to support future research. BCNI will establish a blood cancer biobank to collect and analyse patient samples and an enhanced registry, in association with the National Cancer Registry Ireland, to collect information about the treatment, outcomes, and quality of life of patients with blood cancers in Ireland.

The People Behind BCNI

BCNI is a collaborative network of clinicians, scientists, and population health experts across the country via clinical research facilities in NUI Galway, University College Cork, and St James’s Hospital/Trinity College Dublin. The network also works closely with the National Cancer Registry Ireland and Cancer Trials Ireland.

The research initiative is being led by Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway, and also involves Professor Mary Cahill, Clinical Professor of Haematology, University College Cork; Professor Paul Browne, Professor of Haematology, Trinity College Dublin; Dr Eva Szegezdi, NUI Galway, and Dr Harry Comber, National Cancer Registry of Ireland, as co-lead investigators. 

This joint investment with Science Foundation Ireland comes on foot of the Irish Cancer Society’s strategy to establish and support collaborative cancer research, bringing Irish clinicians, scientists and population researchers together to increase the pace of discovery. This new national cancer research initiative is also supported by the pharmaceutical industry.

For more information see the Blood Cancer Network Ireland website.

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