Posted: 00:00 IST
President Mary McAleese officially opens the new Prostate Cancer Institute at NUI Galway today. The Institute, of which President McAleese is a Patron, is directed by Professor Frank Sullivan, Consultant Radiation Oncologist.
The Institute, which is primarily focused on developing better therapies for patients with prostate cancer, will benefit from a close association with the extensive clinical services already offered to these patients at Galway University Hospitals and other regional hospitals. The Institute will also collaborate with the wide-ranging biomedical research programmes of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Sciences (NCBES) at NUI Galway and with a number of research institutes in Ireland and internationally.
Cancer Biology and Developmental Therapeutics are strategic research priorities at NUI Galway. Over the last number of years, NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital have built a strong team of internationally recognised pre-clinical, translational, and clinical cancer scientists. Galway University Hospital is the major academic-medical centre in the West of Ireland, and is one of the eight specialist cancer centres established under the National Cancer Control Plan. As such it offers the full range of prostate cancer diagnostics and treatments, and is one of the country's leading centres for treatment of this form of cancer.
Prostate cancer still claims around 550 lives a year in Ireland, rivalling the number of deaths due to breast cancer. The Prostate Cancer Institute will draw on the expertise of clinicians and scientists from the University and Hospital in its commitment to develop effective new therapies for patients with prostate cancer. While many advances have been made in the management of early stage patients, a subset of these men will relapse and die of the disease. New and more effective therapies are urgently needed for patients with relapsed disease or disease which is relatively resistant to current standard therapies.
Initial funding for the Institute has been provided by Galway University Foundation. This has enabled the Institute to appoint Dr Sharon Glynn as Director of Laboratory Research. Early work at the Institute will involve the collection and bioprocurement of prostate tissue which will provide the base for its primary and collaborative research programme. The aim is to investigate (as is already being done with breast cancer) which molecular or genetic markers can predict those patients who are likely to relapse, so that they can be targeted with more advanced and novel treatments. The Institute will commit its research to the development of new therapies which will address the challenge in treating those relapsed cancer patients who are unresponsive to currently available treatments. The Galway HRB Clinical Research Facility provides the environment in which patients with prostate cancer will receive novel therapies. The CRF is led by the NUI Galway/Trinity College Dublin Professor of Cancer Therapeutics, Frank Giles, who also serves as the Prostate Institute's Scientific Director, thus optimising the integration of NUI Galway's resources devoted to improving therapy for patients with cancer and to giving patients access to new approaches within their own local community.
NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne said: "This is an important development for NUI Galway as it marks a new direction for translational research at the University. Our research achievements in cancer biology and therapeutics will be given added impetus by the establishment of the Prostate Cancer Institute, which we believe will have a significant impact on both the quality of life of sufferers and on our knowledge of this common disease."
Director of the Prostate Cancer Institute, Professor Frank Sullivan, said: "This represents an important milestone in collaboration on prostate cancer in Ireland. Bringing together the breadth of clinical and basic science experience in our region, and linking it with national and international research groups, can only be good for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, now and into the future. We intend to add to the treatment options for men with the most difficult prostate cancers. A tough but hugely important challenge."