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

RCSI Researchers Awarded Grant for Major Breast Cancer Research

19 May 2006

Researchers at the Department of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) have been awarded a grant of €150,000 for the development of a novel protein which has shown to inhibit tumour growth in in vivo breast cancer models. The grant is part of the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) Research Frontiers Program.

By engineering a recombinant protein to block Insulin-like growth factor (IGF1), known to play a key role in the growth of many cancers, RCSI scientists have discovered a way to prevent the tumour from growing. IGF1 works by stimulating the growth of cancer cells and blood vessels, which feed the tumour. The engineered protein effectively kills the blood vessels in the tumour and starves it of the nutrients and oxygen that it needs in order to grow.

RCSI senior lecturer Dr. Judith Harmey said “Using this funding, we will now make large amounts of this protein and further investigate its anti-tumour efficacy and potential toxicity using tumour models before proceeding to human studies. Eventually, we hope to develop it into an injectable drug.” She added that it will bring them closer to developing the research into a cancer therapy. “We anticipate that this engineered protein may be of value in treating both breast and prostate cancers in the future,” she said.