Collaborative Cancer Research Centre launched by Irish Cancer Society

Launch of cancer research centre
Image caption The new centre was launched on Thursday morning

For the first time, leading breast cancer researchers from across the island of Ireland are to work together in a new project to fight the disease.

More than 50 experts are involved in Ireland's first Collaborative Cancer Research Centre, which has been set up by the Irish Cancer Society charity.

The researchers will share information, expertise and resources, with the aim of developing more effective treatment.

The charity is investing 7.5m euros (£6.4m) in the centre over five years.

In a statement, the Irish Cancer Society said the project would "harness biological information to redefine how breast cancer is treated", with the ultimate aim of developing more accurate, personalised treatments for patients, based on their individual prognosis.

Cross-border collaboration

The new centre will provide centralised access to resources, particularly patient samples, and technical expertise, leading to the creation of an "integrated breast cancer database".

The society said some of the benefits would be to give researchers "access to tumour samples collected from the same patient over time to look at how tumours adapt, and improved insight into signalling networks within tumours".

Most of the institutions involved are based in the Republic of Ireland, with academics from University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin City University, National University of Ireland Galway and University College Cork contributing to the work of the new cancer research centre.

However, there will also be cross-border collaboration in the five-year project, with the participation of the All Ireland Co-Operative Oncology Research Group (ICORG).

Up to five experts from Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK are set to be involved, mainly researchers from Queen's University, Belfast.

The centre will be led by William Gallagher, Associate Professor of Cancer Biology at University College Dublin.

'Critical mass'

He said: "The Collaborative Cancer Research Centre will for the first time in Ireland harness the wealth of data available on breast cancer from around the globe to inform new clinical trials and treatments, and link in with world leading scientists and institutions such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Cambridge Research Institute in the UK.

"The ultimate goal of this research is personalised medicine, which allows us to tailor therapy towards individual patients based on the characteristics of their particular tumour and, thus, improve outcomes for breast cancer patients both in Ireland and worldwide."

Prof Gallagher added: "We are most grateful to the Irish Cancer Society for their incredibly generous support as we strive to work together as a critical mass in the battle against breast cancer, and deliver initial and hopefully important research findings in our first year."

The charity's head of research, Prof John Fitzpatrick, said it was "by far the biggest thing the Irish Cancer Society has ever done in the area of cancer research in Ireland".

The society, which was formally established in 1963, is celebrating its 50th year.