New research aims to advance personalisation of treatment of early-stage breast cancer

The research is being undertaken by Dr Maeve Hennessy under the guidance of Professor Roisin Connolly, the Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research at UCC and Consultant Medical Oncologist at Cork University Hospital (CUH).
New research aims to advance personalisation of treatment of early-stage breast cancer

Orla Dolan, CEO Breakthrough Cancer Research, Professor Roisin Connolly, Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research, UCC and Consultant Medical Oncologist (CUH), Dr. Maeve Hennessy - Breakthrough Clinical Cancer Research Fellow (UCC) and Dr. Laia Raigal - Project Manager UCC Cancer Trials Group. Photo Darragh Kane

New research led by Breakthrough Cancer Research funded investigators at Cancer Research @UCC, University College Cork aims to advance the personalisation of treatment for patients with early-stage breast cancer.

The team, who are working in collaboration with the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins (USA), the Translational Breast Cancer Consortium, Cancer Trials Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI), are developing tools that they hope will maximise the effectiveness of treatment while also minimising treatment-related side effects.

The research is being undertaken by Dr Maeve Hennessy under the guidance of Professor Roisin Connolly, the Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research at UCC and Consultant Medical Oncologist at Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Dr Hennessy was selected as the first recipient of a highly prestigious Clinical Cancer Research Fellowship, which is fully funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research.

The research will focus on exploring predictive biomarkers of response and resistance in two niche early breast cancer subsets; namely human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), around the time of surgery.

Ideally, these biomarkers would be used early in the treatment plan to separate sensitive and resistant tumours to specific agents and then direct treatment in a response-adapted manner.

“This would allow optimisation of treatment decision-making for an individual patient, meaning that certain patients could avoid receiving toxic and futile therapies, while other patients could be directed towards a more intensive approach in order to maximise their outcome,” Dr Hennessy said.

Commenting on the new research, Orla Dolan, CEO of Breakthrough, said: “Dr Hennessy’s research project is extremely important and could benefit hundreds of breast cancer patients nationally and indeed beyond.

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