A County Galway cancer researcher has received a prestigious award to develop new strategies to help improve treatments for patients with colon cancer.
Dr Aideen Ryan from Ballinasloe has been awarded a research fellowship of €230,000 by the Irish Cancer Society.
Colon cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths in Ireland and represents a significant health problem.
In many instances it spreads to other organs, which is called metastasis. When this happens it is most likely to result in death. New ways to tackle the problem of colon cancer metastasis have had very little success.
Dr Ryan’s research is taking a fresh approach by focusing on the cancer cells interaction with the immune system.
She is collaborating with mentor Professors Laurence Egan and Matthew Griffin of NUI Galway and Dr Aileen Houston at University College Cork.
Their previous research has shown how the body’s immune system affects the way in which colon cancer cells spread. The team aims to discover the factors that control the immune system’s interaction with colon cancer.
Dr Ryan says blocking these factors would enable them to develop new drugs that could, in turn, be used to make people’s immune response to cancer stronger.
“This novel approach to cancer treatment could potentially result in better treatments and consequently a better prognosis and quality of life for patients with colon cancer.”