Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Research News

          

Research News 2014  

Dr Lorna Lopez Awarded First Prize From the Schizophrenia International Research Society

Dr Lorna Lopez from Professor David Cotter's group in the Department of Psychiatry was awarded first prize from the Schizophrenia International Research Society for her poster at the 4th Biennial Schizophrenia International Research Conference held in Florence, Italy, early in April 2014.  This was an internationally renowned conference with over 1,700 delegates and 800 posters. Lorna was awarded 1st prize winner for her presentation of her work on "Integrated genomic and proteomic evidence for the postsynaptic density in schizophrenia" with the Cotter team including Melanie Focking, Jane English, Patrick Dicker, Annemarie Wolff, Elizabeth Brindley, Kieran Wynne and Gerard Cagney. Also from Professor Cotter's team, Dr Melanie Focking and PhD students Lorna Farrelly and Elizabeth Brindley presented posters and Dr Jane English presented exciting new findings implicating protein translation in schizophrenia in a symposium on stem cell biology in schizophrenia chaired and organised by Professor Cotter. (April 2014)

 

 

National Survey of Stroke Survivors in Ireland Report launched

Pictured at the launch are (l-r) Dr Rose Galvin, Dr Frances Horgan and Mary Walsh.

The National Survey of Stroke Survivors in Ireland Report was launched on 7 April at the National Disability Authority. The study was led by RCSI researchers Dr Frances Horgan and Mary Walsh, RCSI School of Physiotherapy, Dr Rose Galvin, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research and Chris Macey and Cliona Loughnane from the Irish Heart Foundation.

Approximately 11,000 people experience a stroke each year in the Republic of Ireland (Irish Heart Foundation, 2012). This research project aimed to describe the experiences and needs of people who have returned to live in the community after experiencing a stroke. The research was funded under the National Disability Authority's Research Promotion Grant Scheme. Almost 200 people responded to the survey.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Frances Horgan (PI) highlighted that ‘Stroke was found to have a personal, social and economic impact, and there were challenges that affected return to independence'.

The launch coincides with the start of Stroke Awareness Week, April 7th-11th 2014. For more information go to http://www.rcsi.ie/index.jsp?p=100&n=110&a=4470 (April 2014)

 

 

RCSI Researcher Council Member of the Irish Association for Cancer Research

Dr. Olga Piskareva (Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics) has been elected as council member of the Irish Association for Cancer Research at the annual IACR meeting's AGM in Galway. Olga will serve a three year term and is the fourth RCSI member on the council. The Irish Association for Cancer Research is an All-Ireland non-profit organisation for cancer researchers in the Irish biomedical community. (April 2014)

 

  

Research May Lead to a New Bowel Cancer Detection Method

New evidence that a common gut bacterium is involved in bowel cancer has been discovered by researchers from the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics in RCSI. The research is published in the April edition of the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases.

The HRB funded research, led by Dr David Hughes at the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI found a significantly increased presence of a common microbe Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) in tissue and stool samples of patients with colorectal cancers and colorectal benign tumours. Additionally Fn infection levels were related with benign tumour progression from early to advanced stages and the transition from a benign tumour to cancer.

Commenting on the research, Dr David Hughes, said "Our research found that cancer patients with low bacterial levels had significantly longer survival times than patients with moderate and high levels of the bacterium.  Also, for patients with a benign tumour, we found that the presence of Fn may be a risk factor for disease progression from tumour to cancer. This is a significant finding because it highlights the potential of Fn detection as a possible indicator of colorectal cancers."

The research highlights that screening for Fn levels may be used as a new bowel cancer detection method or to further inform existing screening strategies. Efforts to combat Fn infection could be considered for colorectal cancers patients with high levels of the bacterium to improve the survival prospects for these patients.

For patients with benign tumours, Fn levels may be used to classify the tumours that may have a higher risk of disease progression to colorectal cancers with implications for increasing follow-up and at the possible use of anti-microbial treatments.

Dr Hughes continued "Potentially, any impact of Fn infection on benign tumour development and progression to more serious stages will be considerable, because 95% of all bowel cancers arise from benign tumours, but only a small number of them become cancerous. Currently, there are no reliable predictive markers of whether a benign tumour will advance to cancer." (April 2014)

 

Epilepsy Research Publication in Nature Genetics

RCSI researchers have published a study on epilepsy in the journal Nature Genetics. The study, entitled ‘TDP2 protects transcription from abortive topoisomerase activity and is required for normal neural function' (NG 2014, doi:10.1038/ng.2929) has identified a novel gene for epilepsy and links a novel biological pathway to the condition, was co-authored by Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri (pictured), Dr Mark McCormack and Professor Norman Delanty (all of MCT). (March 2014)

 

Professor Brian Harvey Keynote Speaker at West Coast Salt & Water Club

Professor Brian Harvey (Molecular Medicine) delivered the Keynote Lecture on ‘Estrogen regulation of epithelial ion transporters in health and disease' at the 33rd annual meeting of the West Coast Salt and Water Club (WCSWC) held at Avila Beach, California in March this year. The WCSWC is an elite group of US scientists and physicians who share common interests in ion and solute transport, epithelial cell biology, and cellular regulatory mechanisms in a variety of systems. (March 2014)

 

Professor David Henshall Presented with Robert Bentley Todd Silver Medal

Professor David Henshall (Physiology and Medical Physics) was presented with the Robert Bentley Todd Silver Medal by the RCSI Neuroscience Society, in recognition of his contributions to teaching and research in neuroscience. This award was made during an undergraduate-hosted evening that focused on basic research and clinical aspects of epilepsy, held at RCSI on March 6th. (March 2014)

 

Perinatal Ireland Study Day

Professor Fergal Malone (Obstetrics and Gynaecology), Dr Elizabeth Tully (Perinatal Ireland) and Dr Julia Unterscheider (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) hosted the first Perinatal Ireland Study Day which took place on Thursday March 6th 2014 in the Rotunda Hospital. This open meeting was attended by clinicians, allied health professionals and members of the public and it showcased research in the areas of Multiple Pregnancy and Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR). (March 2014)

 

SODIS Project

The SODIS Project , which is the work of Professor Kevin McGuigan (Physiology and Medical Physics) and his team has received renewed and increased their funding through the Princess Haya Foundation for this initiative. This important award will fund the installation of harvested rainwater tanks in rural primary schools in Makondo in South Western Uganda as well as postgraduate research in the area. (March 2014)

RESEARCH DAY 2014
On 20th March 2014, the annual RCSI Research Day took place, showcasing the most recent, cutting-edge research findings across the College and emphasising the importance of research within the RCSI, particularly amongst early career researchers. The latest advances in biomedical sciences, clinical research, population health sciences and healthcare delivery were just some of the topics featured on the day.  This occasion was attended by more than 300 researchers.

The Annual John J Ryan Distinguished Guest Lecture was delivered by Professor Sir Stephen O'Rahilly who spoke of "Human metabolic disease: lessons from the extremes", in a fascinating lecture exploring his research into the genetic causes of extreme obesity and insulin resistance which have provided new insights into the physiology of energy balance and metabolism. A native of Dublin, Professor O'Rahilly is Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine the University of Cambridge. He is the Co-Director of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science and Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit.

Professor Sir Stephen O'Rahilly delivers the Annual John J Ryan Distinguished Guest Lecture

RESEARCH DAY PRIZE WINNERS

 

Pictured (l-r) are Bojana Mirkovic (Early Career Investigators Oral Research - The Barnes Medal); Tristram Hills (Undergraduate Poster); Natalia Rodriguez Alavarez (PhD Scholars Poster); Aoife McKeon (Front Cover Illustration Abstract Book); Prof Kevin McGuigan, Research Day Academic Coordinator; Yuan-Hsun Chang (Undergraduate Oral Research - The Dr. Harry O'Flanagan Prize), Mary Elizabeth Walsh (Post-graduate Oral Research - The Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals Prize); Ashwanth Ramesh (Post-graduate Poster), Ciara A. O'Dwyer (PhD Scholars Oral Research - The Roche Gold Medal); and Dr Alice Garvey (Health Professions Education Award)

Additional prize winners included Ian Miller (Early Career Investigators) and Dr. Kieran Sweeney was the recipient of the Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery.


Pictured (l-r) are Dr Camilla Carroll, daughter of Mr Kamal Sayed and graduate of RCSI who presented the Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery (Generously supported by Dr Yacoob Kadwa, Class of 1965) which was awarded to Dr. Kieran Sweeney; Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI; Dr Safia Sayed; and Dr Jacintha More O'Ferrall.


The successful event was organised by Co-ordinators Professor Kevin McGuigan (Academic Co-ordinator); Stephanie O'Connor and Cathy Priestley (Research Office Co-ordinators). (March 2014)

 

 

New Review Article from RCSI

Prof Kevin McGuigan in collaboration with researchers in I.T. Sligo, UCC, University of Ulster, Plataforma Solar de Almería, Spain, University of Cyprus, Florida International University and University of Cincinnati published a new review article on Solar photocatalysis for water disinfection: Materials and reactor design in the RSC journal Catalysis Science & Technology. This review addresses the fundamental reaction mechanism, advances in materials synthesis and selection and recent developments in the reactor design for solar energy driven photocatalysis using titanium dioxide. The major advantage of using photo-reactors is that they enhance disinfection by increasing photon flux into the photocatalyst. Other major factors affecting such efficiency of solar-based photocatalysis such as the illuminated volume/total volume ratio, catalyst load and flow rate, are discussed in detail. The article is available to download at http://xlink.rsc.org/?doi=C4CY00006D (March 2014)

 

RCSI Prize-winners at the Young Life Scientists Ireland 2014 symposium

RCSI had great success at the recent Young Life Scientists Ireland 2014 symposium, which was held at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Trinity College Dublin on the 1st of March. Naadiya Carrim (MCT) and Cormac McDonnell (School of Pharmacy & MCT) were awarded first and second prizes, respectively, for Best Oral Presentation in the Cardiovascular Biology section. Nicola Kavanagh (School of Pharmacy & MCT) received second prize in the general poster category for her presentation. Three PhD students from the TERG were also awarded with prizes. Mr Alan Ryan was awarded 1st prize in the Regenerative Medicine category of the oral presentations with his talk entitled "Generating Viable Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts from Natural Polymers", while Mr Cian O'Leary received 2nd prize in the same category for his talk entitled "A Tissue-Engineering Approach to Improve Airway In Vitro Models: The Development of a Bilayered Collagen-GAG Scaffold". Ms Nicola Kavanagh, a recently appointed PhD student in the TERG, received a runner up prize for her poster presentation entitled "Development of a 3D Scaffold Based Model System for the Study of Bone Infection". (March 2014)

 

 

Professor Seamus Cowman Appointed to UK's Lancet Nursing Commission

Professor Seamus Cowman, Head of the School of Nursing & Midwifery is set to play a major role in deciding the future of nursing in the United Kingdom after he was appointed to the Lancet Commission in Britain.

The Commission plans to review the education, workforce, practice, image and future of UK nursing and to provide recommendations on each to the profession, the public and key decision-makers.

Taking into account international comparators, the Commission will then produce a report on its deliberations and proposals, which will be published both in The Lancet and as a separate booklet. (March 2014)

 

Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Article Highly Cited

Dr. Marcus Rehm (pictured) and Dr. Christian T. Hellwig are corresponding authors for the article, TRAIL Signaling and Synergy Mechanisms Used in TRAIL-Based Combination Therapies. Mol Cancer Ther. January 2012: 11:3-13 which was one of the most highly-cited Molecular Cancer Therapeutics articles published in 2012. (February 2014)

 

 

Perinatal Ireland

A delegation from the RCSI Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and the Perinatal Ireland Research Consortium recently participated in the 'Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine: 34th Annual Pregnancy Meeting' in New Orleans. Data and results from the recently completely PORTO study on the management of pregnancies affected by growth restriction were presented in both oral and poster format. In total, three oral presentations and 12 posters were presented by Professor Fergal Malone and his team.  The first ‘Perinatal Ireland Study Day' will take place on Thursday March 6th 2014 in the Rotunda Hospital. This is an open meeting for clinicians, allied health professionals and the public and will showcase the results of the ‘ESPRiT National Twin Study' and the ‘PORTO Study on the Management of IUGR pregnancies'. (February 2014) 
  
  


COPD Research

Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine, and his team of researchers from RCSI, the Alpha One Foundation and Harvard University have made a major breakthrough in identifying a significant proportion of the population who have an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to a combination of inherited genes and exposure to cigarette smoke. Their paper is entitled ‘Clari?cation of the Risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in a1-Antitrypsin De?ciency PiMZ Heterozygotes' (Vol 189, No 4 / Feb 15 2014) had been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and has  attracted widespread media attention in Ireland. (February 2014)
 


Human Disease Mapping Conference
PhD students Christopher Whelan and Annachiara Mitrugno (MCT) were Chair and Co-Chair respectively of the recent successful conference on Human Disease Mapping. This conference was organised by Christopher and Annachiara along with their postgraduate student colleagues in RCSI, under HRB support, for postgraduate students and postdocs nationally and internationally. Naadiya Carrim (MCT) received the prize for Best Oral Presentation.   (February 2014)

 

International Diabetes Federation Grantee
A study which examined the co-existence of two common diseases in Bahrain, diabetes and sickle cell, by Dr Ali Abdulnabi Mohamed in RCSI Bahrain, has been selected as one of 15 International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Grantees for the World Diabetes Congress (WDC) 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. The research was under the supervision of Professor David Whitford, Professor of Family and Community Medicine and now Head of School of Postgraduate Studies and Research. (February 2014)


 

RCSI Cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken inspires latest CSI TV spin-off

From RCSI to CSI - a potential new spin-off from the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has been inspired by the work of Irish cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken at the RCSI.

The planned spin-off will explore technology and human behaviour and will revolve around the character of Avery Ryan (inspired by Aiken, who is a producer on the show), a special agent in charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI.

Aiken is a cyberpsychologist and research fellow at RCSI's Institute of Leadership and Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre. Her research looks at the impact of emerging technology on human behaviour, including the negative aspects such as cyberbullying, criminal activities and anxiety. Her work has explored areas such as human trafficking, cybersecurity and online profiling.

It's not Aiken's first time to be involved in a TV series - she was a featured expert, writer and researcher on the TV3 series Crime in Mind. The pilot for the potential new series will air as a CSI episode in America this spring on CBS.

Commenting on this exciting project Mary said "I think it's a great opportunity to raise money for badly needed research into the impact of technology on child development, and to embed safety and educational messaging into a mass communication forum."

Reference and further information:

http://www.siliconrepublic.com/innovation/item/35864--wit2013/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2014/02/18/csi-spinoff-cbs/5583093/

(February 2014)

 

Endovascular treatment for Stroke patients.

The first European patient has been enrolled in the ESCAPE trial by the Neuroradiology team in Beaumont Hospital and the Mater Hospital Stroke service. The Principal Investigators for this study are Beaumont Hospital based Consultants, Prof David Williams Consultant Stroke Physician (pictured), and Dr John Thornton Consultant Neuroradiologist. They are working in collaboration with stroke services throughout the region in identifying eligible patients and offering participation in the trial.

This study compares standard thrombolysis therapy with thrombectomy, in patients with proximal vessel occlusion stroke. Its outcome has the potential to revolutionize the future management of stroke patients. The trial is sponsored by the University of Calgary, Canada and is being conducted across Canada, USA and more recently Europe. It is being coordinated by research nurses from the RCSI Clinical Research Centre. (February 2014)

 

Biostatistical Consulting And Support Service
A Biostatistical Consulting and Support Service (BCSS) is now available at RCSI. The service is funded by the College and aims to provide biostatistical support to researchers during the preparation and the implementation of project proposals. The introduction of this support will contribute to delivering a high quality of quantitative research and improve the statistical skills of researchers at RCSI. The BCSS is being rolled out across the college in phases. Initially it will be available to all Principal Investigators in RCSI and in the RCSI-affiliated Academic Group of Hospitals only. The team involved in implementing this service consists of Professor Ronán Conroy and Dr Patrick Dicker, of Epidemiology & Public Health Medicine, and Dr Fiona Boland, General Practice (pictured). (February 2014)

 

RCSI Library
Kate Kelly, Mercer Library, has been named as the incoming Chair of the Irish Consortium of National and University Libraries (CONUL) for 2014-2016. CONUL is a consortium of Ireland's main research libraries. (February 2014)

  

Launch of SPHeRE Programme heralds exciting era for Population Health Research
The Structured Population and Health-services Research Education (SPHeRE) programme was launched in RCSI in January 2014. Speaking at this well-attended event, Professor Anne Hickey (Director of SPHeRE and Associate Professor of Psychology at RCSI) highlighted that the objective of the programme is to 'create a network of highly trained researchers who can competently research aspects of the current Irish health system, making recommendations to inform policy and implement changes in practice, with the aim of improving population health and health service delivery for the people of Ireland'.



Pictured (l-r) is Mr. Enda Connolly, CEO, HRB; Prof. Reinhard Busse, Technical University of Berlin; Prof. Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI; Prof Patricia Kearney, UCC; Professor Anne Hickey, RCSI and Director of SPHeRE; Mr. Tony O'Brien, Director General of the Health Service; and Prof. Steve Thomas, Trinity College and Co-Director of SPHeRE

The SPHeRE Programme is a partnership between RCSI, University College Cork (UCC) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), expanding on the well-established and successful HRB structured PhD Scholars Programme in Health Services Research which commenced in 2007. The Programme aims to produce a national integrated faculty that meets the growing demand for high quality graduates in PHHSR and improves the quality and relevance of such research in Ireland by:
  • Expanding to a national programme, incorporating HEIs beyond the founding institutions (RCSI, TCD, UCC);
  • Encompassing population health research alongside health services research, through the expansion of current taught input and thesis topics;
  • Building a national knowledge translation network for better capacity and inter-connectivity;
  • Upgrading the national skills base, for example, through new initiatives in providing access to taught modules.

Supported by a €6.3 million investment from the Health Research Board (HRB), the new programme will provide education and training for five cohorts of PhD scholars annually (2013-2017). Dr Teresa Maguire (Head of Population Health and Health Services Research at the Health Research Board) noted: ‘The HRB has funded this programme because it directly supports our strategic objectives to build capacity in population health and health services research and develop strong evidence to drive positive changes in people's health, patient care, health policy and health service delivery'.

Other speakers at the launch included Mr Tony O'Brien (Director General of the Health Service), Prof Steve Thomas (Co-Director of SPHeRE and Associate Professor in Health Policy and Management, TCD), Prof Patricia Kearney (Research Professor, UCC), and Prof John Browne (Deputy Director of SPHeRE and Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCC). A keynote address on the topic of Universal Health Insurance (UHI) entitled: ‘Implementing competitive UHI: benefit basket, pooling, risk-related allocation and other important considerations', was delivered by Professor Reinhard Busse, Technical University of Berlin and European Observatory on Health Systems.

Applications for the next intake of scholars open at the end of February 2014. For more information about the Programme and details of the application process, please go to the SPHeRE Programme website at: http://www.sphereprogramme.ie/ (January 2014)

 

24th Sheppard Prize Winners
The RCSI Department of Pathology has announced the winners of the 24th Sheppard Prize, which is awarded to RCSI MDs and PhDs who have achieved excellence in research in their respective fields. This year's award winners were Dr Emmet O'Brien, who won the MD oral presentation prize; Dr Michelle White, who won the PhD oral presentation prize; Dr Colin Davenport, the winner of the PhD poster prize; and Dr Eoghan McCarthy who won the MD poster prize. Judging panel included a number of consultants as well as Professor Arnie Hill, Head of the School of Medicine & Chair of Surgery, RCSI and Professor Seamus Sreenan, Director of the Graduate Entry Medical Programme, RCSI.


Pictured (l-r) is Barry Morris, AstraZeneca Ireland; Dr. Colin Davenport, 1st place in PhD Poster Prize; Michelle White, 1st place in PhD Oral Prize; Dr. Emmet O'Brien, 1st MD Oral Prize; and Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine at RCSI, Beaumont Hospital. (January 2014)

 

TERG Researchers Win Awards

Researchers from the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) were awarded top prizes at the inaugural ‘Human Disease Mapping' conference held in RCSI late last month. Alan Ryan was awarded first place in the Student Oral category, Erica Tierney was awarded top place in the Post-Doctoral Researcher Oral category and Elaine Quinlan was awarded 2nd place in the student poster category. (January 2014)

 

RCSI attends ISCP-China

Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri and Professor John Waddington (MCT) have recently returned from representing RCSI and speaking at the SFI International Strategic Collaboration Programme (ISCP)-China Biomedical Workshop in Beijing, together with 3U colleagues from DCU and NUIM and additional colleagues from TCD. ISCP-China supports the development of new and existing collaborative research opportunities between Irish universities and partner organisations in China. The attached group photo shows the Irish and Chinese participants outside the Yingjie Exchange Center at Peking University; in the centre is the Irish Ambassador to China, Mr. Paul Kavanagh.

Also attached are photos of Gianpiero and John in discussions with Chinese colleagues. The hope is that these interactions will lead to new opportunities for research collaboration and enhance the attractiveness of grant applications to both national and international agencies. (January 2014)

 

 

 

ISFI ISCA-Japan

In relation to the successful SFI ISCA-Japan award, John Waddington (MCT) recently laid some 'groundwork' for research collaborations with Japanese investigators via visits to the Department of Pharmacology, Nihon University School of Dentistry, Tokyo, the Department of Psychiatry, Hamamatsu University, and the Department of Psychiatry, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. The attached photo shows John with [left] Prof. Masatoshi Takeda, Osaka University, and [right] Prof. Noriaki Koshikawa, Nihon University, Tokyo. (January 2014)

 

Subsequently, Prof. Koshikawa and his colleague, Dr. Katsunori Tomiyama [left/right in the attached photo] attended the reception in Tokyo at which An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, during his recent visit to Japan, announced the ICSA-Japan award; as shown in the attached photo, Prof. Koshikawa toasted RCSI's success with a pint of Guinness! (January 2014)

 

 

RCSI Research Breakthrough in Understanding Hereditary Emphysema

13th January 2014: Researchers from RCSI and Beaumont Hospital have made an important breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of hereditary emphysema.  Their research findings were published in this month's edition of Science Translational Medicine, a prestigious journal that highlights medical advances resulting from scientific research, thus bridging the research-to-treatment gap. Their exciting findings show how the protein Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) plays an important role in controlling inflammation from white blood cells and its importance for good health.

The research found that Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) is an important protein produced by the liver which, when released into the bloodstream travels to the lungs to protect the lung tissue from disease. Patients deficient in AAT suffer from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1); a hereditary disorder that leads to the most severe form of hereditary emphysema.

Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine at RCSI and senior author on the study commented: "Our study is the first to reveal the mechanisms by which a lack of the Alpha-1 protein causes an increase in the release of white blood cell proteins into the blood stream. This leads to an autoimmune process in the body that mistakenly recognises these proteins as foreign and activates its own white blood cells to produce harmful oxidants"

"Our research also reveals how a treatment known as augmentation therapy, where Alpha-1 protein purified from blood, is given intravenously, leading to a decrease in the abnormal protein release thereby alleviating the disease associated autoimmunity. This research gives new hope for a better quality of life for sufferers of this chronic condition and may also be applied to other autoimmune associated diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Prof McElvaney continued.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein produced by the liver which, when released into the bloodstream travels to the lungs to protect the lung tissue from disease. Patients deficient in AAT suffer from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1); a hereditary disorder that leads to severe emphysema. Emphysema (otherwise known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)) is caused by inflammation of the alveoli, the sponge-like tissues that take oxygen into the lungs. The disease causes shortness of breath in its mildest form and in its severest form, patients must use an oxygen mask and may need a lung transplant. The first single lung and first double lung transplant recipients in Ireland were people with Alpha-1. 

Alpha-1 is much more common in Ireland than in most other countries. After cystic fibrosis, it is the most common fatal inherited lung condition in Ireland (1). Alpha-1 is estimated to affect more than 12,000 people nationally in its most severe form and the less severe form may affect as many as 200,000 individuals in Ireland. 1 in 25 Irish individuals carry the gene for the disease. (1).

In 2004, the Alpha One Foundation initiated the first national screening programme for Alpha-1. To date, more than 11,000 individuals have been tested and 28% were found to be at risk from the disease (1). The World Health Organisation recommends that everyone with COPD or emphysema should be tested for Alpha-1. For more information on how to get tested for Alpha-1, see http://www.alpha1.ie/ or contact the National Centre for Alpha-1 at Beaumont Hospital (alpha1@rcsi.ie).

The joint lead authors on the research are Dr David Bergin and Dr Emer Reeves from the Respiratory Research Division of RCSI's Department of Medicine based in the Education and Research Centre at Beaumont Hospital. The research was supported by the Medical Research Charities Group/ Health Research Board, the Alpha One Foundation (Ireland) and the Alpha-1 Foundation (USA). 

Editors Notes

  • (1) Carroll, T. P., C. A. O'Connor, O. Floyd, J. McPartlin, D. P. Kelleher, G. O'Brien, B. D. Dimitrov, V. B. Morris, C. C. Taggart, and N. G. McElvaney. 2011. The prevalence of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency in Ireland. Respir Res 12:91.

(January 2014) 

 

 

Anatomical Society honours two RCSI Staff

The Anatomical Society has honoured two members of RCSI Staff. Pictured (l-r) is Dr Garry Duffy and Prof Clive Lee. Based in London, the Anatomical Society promotes, develops and advances research and education in anatomy. At its AGM in Newcastle in December, Professor Clive Lee was elected President of the Anatomical Society for a three year term. He is the fourth Irish person to be elected President in the 127 year history of the Society. Each year, the Society awards four PhD studentships and, this year, Dr Garry Duffy received one for his project ‘Decoding the extrinsic regulation of cardiac stem cell fate in cardiovascular disease'. (January 2014)

 

RCSI Research Day 2014 Our Annual showcase event for all of our researchers to give oral presentations and exhibit posters of their work will take place on Thursday March 20th 2014. Read more about our research day »

 

Archived News


Annual Report (Research Section)
Annual Report (Research Section)

Fleam (Research Section)