Belfast-based science team makes major breakthrough in the ongoing fight against prostate cancer


Prostate cancer has one of the highest morbidity index of all cancers among Irish people. Early stages of the disease cause little to no symptoms, so it is either detected early via a routine check, or too late, when the disease is already at an advanced stage.


If caught and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is almost 90%, whereas late-stage disease carries a significantly lower chance of survival.

It has emerged today that a Belfast team has made a major breakthrough in the treatment of the disease.

Depending on how little or how much the cancer has spread, treatment options are varied, usually involving a combination of radiotherapy, surgery, and support therapies.

Now, researchers in Belfast have tested a novel treatment technique that combines an existing androgen-deprivation therapy with a new compound, OCT1002.

OCT1002 is a novel, hypoxia-activated prodrug that inhibits the expression of genes commonly associated with prostate cancer.

In-vivo testing showed that OCT1002, when used concomitantly with hormone treatment, caused markedly increased apoptosis of malignant cells, leading to enhanced tumor growth control.

The team also believes that this new combination treatment will greatly reduce the chances of relapse, as OCT1002 selectively targets hypoxic (‘low oxygen’) tumor cells. Tumor hypoxia is commonly associated with genetic aberrations in affected cells, which may trigger disease relapse.

Speaking about the breakthrough, study leader Dr. Declan McKenna said that clinical trials are needed, but explained that: “Hormone therapy is an effective treatment but its success with more resistant cancer cells is limited.”

“By combining hormone therapy with this new drug we have for the first time discovered a way to destroy these resistant cells that may otherwise lead to relapse or the spread of cancer cells.”

Irish research team leads the way in possible breakthrough in the fight against aggressive breast cancer


An Irish research team, Breast-Predict, is confident that it has achieved a breakthrough in the fight against Triple-negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). The team is based in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

TNBC accounts for about 15% of all breast cancer diagnoses, but has the highest mortality rate due to a lack of truly effective treatment.

The team believes that compound APR-246 can be used to treat TNBC effectively.

TNBC differs from other subtypes in that it does not express estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) or the amplification of Her2/neu. Since most chemotherapy drugs target one of these three molecular markers, the medical armamentarium in the fight against aggressive breast cancer is severely limited.

Patients diagnosed with TNBC usually undergo chemotherapy, but the disease does not respond well to treatment in many cases, since the targeted receptors are missing. As a result, most patients face a poor outcome.

Crucially, the vast majority of TNBC cases feature a mutated P53 gene, which makes it a target of interest for treatment.

A mutation in P53 renders it ineffective in enabling the DNA damage response pathway, which allows the survival of incipient tumour cells.

APR-246’s mechanism of action targets the aberrant P53 gene, ‘correcting’ its mutation and thus inhibiting tumour progression.

The compound will undergo clinical trials to determine its long-term viability.

Dr Robert O’Connor, Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, has welcomed the development and said that “These research programmes focus on finding new ways to prevent as many cancers as we can, ensuring the most advanced personalised treatment options are available and that as many patients as possible thrive after their treatment.”

“The number of people with cancer in Ireland is expected to double by 2040, and more research is vital if to tackle this growing epidemic of cancer.”

Recent clinical trials reveal groundbreaking possibilities for successful cancer treatment


An experimental combination therapy recently put to the test in human clinical trials has shown outstanding results in progression-free survival rates for terminally ill cancer patients.

Current chemotherapy drugs may buy a terminally ill patient a few months to live, at best, and in many cases mere weeks.

But recent trials have tested immunotherapy drugs that have proved strikingly effective against aggressive forms of melanoma and lung cancer.

Immunotherapy has been hailed as the most exciting development in cancer treatment in recent times, and it has been postulated that it will replace chemotherapy as standard treatment in the near future.

Immunotherapy works by boosting the human body’s own immune system to fight disease, and though it is commonly used in other therapeutic areas, cancer research made little use of it until now.

Recent trials were conducted on 945 patients with advanced melanoma. They were treated with a combination therapy of the drugs ipilimumab and nivolumab, and at the end of the trial, the therapy achieved a tumour reduction of over 50%, which is an outstanding result.

Dr Alan Worsley, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information officer, has said: “This research suggests that we could give a powerful one-two punch against advanced melanoma by combining immunotherapy treatments.

“Together these drugs could release the brakes on the immune system while blocking cancer’s ability to hide from it.

“But combining these treatments also increases the likelihood of potentially quite severe side effects. Identifying which patients are most likely to benefit will be key to bringing our best weapons to bear against the disease.”

The trials have so far been restricted to two types of cancer, but these therapies may soon be extended to other common cancers.

It has been claimed that the evidence in favor of this groundbreaking new treatment is so overwhelmingly positive that tens of thousands of lives may be saved in the UK alone within a decade.