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HRB-Health Research In Action booklet (feat. NICB)


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On Dec. 20th 2016, the HRB published their "Health Research In Action" booklet that detailed a small selection of recent success stories from their research funding portfolio which "...really show health research in action".

The corneal-limbal stem cell research work carried out at NICB (by Finbarr O’Sullivan and Prof. Martin Clynes) and which led to the first corneal-limbal stem cell transplant in Ireland (carried out by Mr. William Power of the RVEEH) on June 7th, 2016 got an honorable mention (Page 17)

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HRB-Health Research In Action booklet (feat. NICB)

  1. 1. Research. Evidence. Action. Health Research in Action
  2. 2. HRB Funding Statistics - a snapshot from awards which completed in 2015 74 €21,310,000 new methods or materials (e.g. assays, databases, training materials) healthcare innovations (e.g. medical devices, therapies or interventions) influences on policy or practice (e.g. new clinical guidelines, policy reports) This research resulted in: 44 29 53 HRB funded projects completed in 2015 representing about a quarter of our overall investment in the system It was an investment of
  3. 3. Significant academic outputs 68 PhDs 403 peer review papers 744 presentations at scientific conferences 194 academic collaborations and 99 of these were international Supporting 216 jobs 108 137 Healthcare Professionals Biomedical Scientists The economic impact € € € Created two spin out companies Filed seven patents Started 25 industry collaborations Leveraged €65,375,527 funding on foot of these awards 3Health Research in Action
  4. 4. 4 Health Research in Action In order to share some examples of our research in a user friendly way, we captured a few of the success stories, summarised them and turned them into tweets we can use on social media to build on our #hrb30 campaign. So in just a few seconds, you should get a good sense of some of the great discoveries and outcomes that the Health Research Board is supporting across many areas of health. Thanks to @claireoconnell - Irish Science Writer of the Year 2016 - and all the researchers for helping us pull this together. Special thanks to the patients for sharing their stories.
  5. 5. 5Health Research in Action From bugs to drugs: using bacteria to deliver medicines to tumours University College Cork, Project Leader Dr Mark Tangney The problem When cancer spreads in the body, the disease can be much harder to treat – because therapies need to be given to the entire body in order to find all the tumours. So we need new ways of getting drugs to work only within these cancerous tumours throughout the body, in order to kill them, but without harming non-cancerous regions. The project HRB-funded researchers at University College Cork want to use bacteria to find tumours in the body and deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to them. Tumours are often low in oxygen, but some bacteria, such as probiotic bacteria, like that. We already know that if these bacteria are injected into the body they like to grow at tumour sites. So the researchers looked to see if they could add genes to probiotic bacteria and use them as tiny ’Trojan horses’ to get inside the tumour and then make drugs on the spot and destroy the cancer. The outcomes »» A new suite of engineered ’Trojan horse’ bacteria that can now be tested to deliver drugs directly to hard-to-find tumours in the body. »» The bacteria should be able to target most types of solid tumours, so could work against a range of different cancers. »» Preparations are underway for clinical trials of the cancer-targeting bacteria in humans - ultimately the patient may simply need to swallow the bacteria to set them to work. Dr Mark Tangney from the Cork Cancer Research Centre says: “ The great thing about probiotic bacteria is that the body likes them - so once they are injected or swallowed they can go off and find a tumour. Then, if we have pre-loaded the bacteria with genes to make anti-cancer drugs, the idea is that they can make the drugs directly at the site of the tumour and kill the cancer.” In Summary When cancer spreads in the body, tumours can be hard to find. But not for bacteria - researchers at University College Cork have engineered bacteria that can find tumours and load them up with genes to make anti-cancer drugs on the spot. The outcome could be easy-to-swallow probiotics that find and destroy tumours. @HRBIreland research at @ucc made bacterial ‘Trojan horses’ to find & access tumours & deliver anti-cancer drugs on the spot
  6. 6. 6 Health Research in Action A key part of the puzzle for a vaccine to tackle MRSA Trinity College Dublin, lead researcher Dr Rachel McLoughlin The problem MRSA is a serious problem in healthcare settings because the bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus or SA) has become resistant to antibiotics. A vaccine could help to protect vulnerable patients, but to design an effective vaccine we need to know how the body naturally reacts to SA infection. The project At Trinity College Dublin, Dr Rachel McLoughlin analysed samples from patients who had been infected with SA and found that a type of immune cell called a ‘Type 1 T-helper’ (Th1) cell seemed to be important for recovery. The research also showed that boosting these cells in an experimental model resulted in better recovery from MRSA infection. The outcomes »» We know that Th1 cells are involved in tackling SA infection in the body. »» Boosting Th1 cells with an experimental vaccine helped to clear SA infection. »» The findings, which have been published in the highly regarded journal PLoS Pathogens, will help scientists to design a future vaccine against MRSA to protect vulnerable patients. Dr Rachel McLoughlin says: “ We should be trying to better understand how our body naturally responds to bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. We collected samples from patients at Tallaght, St James’s and Beaumont Hospitals who had a SA bloodstream infection and we identified a specific type of immune cell that was present at higher levels in patients who were recovering from the infection. We then developed a model vaccine to target these immune cells and in our model it improved infection outcomes. It is very exciting to think that the work we have done here could contribute to the development of an effective vaccine against MRSA.” In Summary MRSA, where Staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotic treatment, is one of the most infamous ‘superbugs’. HRB-funded research at Trinity College Dublin has discovered that a type of immune cell called a Type 1 T-helper cell is an important component of the body’s response to Staph infection and that these cells could be targeted in the design of future vaccines against MRSA to protect vulnerable patients. @HRBIreland research @tcddublin pinpointed an immune cell the body uses against Staph infection > findings will inform vaccine against MRSA
  7. 7. 7Health Research in Action @HRBIreland research @ucddublin showed legislative smoking bans reduce cardiovascular disease, esp in non-smokers #CochraneReview In Summary In 2004, Ireland became a global pioneer in banning smoking in the workplace, and many other countries and jurisdictions have followed suit. Now HRB-funded research at University College Dublin has shown strong evidence that banning smoking in public places is good for cardiovascular health. The Cochrane Review of 77 studies across 21 countries showed that: »» Legislative smoking bans reduced hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease for both smokers and non-smokers. »» The largest reductions in admissions were in non-smokers. Smoking bans work: evidence for health benefits University College Dublin, lead researcher Dr Kate Frazer The problem Smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke is linked to serious chronic disease. In 2004, Ireland took a pioneering step of banning indoor smoking in the workplace, including pubs and restaurants, and many other countries and jurisdictions have followed suit. But what are the long-term impacts on public health? The project Dr Kate Frazer and Professor Cecily Kelleher at University College Dublin analysed 77 studies about smoking and cardiovascular disease (which can lead to heart attacks and strokes) from 21 countries. They used a technique called ‘systematic reviewing’ to see how robust the studies were, and they looked at the larger pattern that emerged from these studies. The outcomes »» We now have evidence that legislative smoking bans reduce the numbers of smokers and non-smokers being admitted to hospital for cardiovascular issues. »» A publication in the prestigious Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. »» Widespread media coverage around the success of smoking bans. Dr Kate Frazer says: “ From a policy perspective, countries need to know that legislative smoking bans reduce passive smoke exposure and improve health outcomes, and we have been able to find the evidence internationally that smoking bans work.”
  8. 8. 8 Health Research in Action @HRBIreland research shows lack of awareness re dental implants => older people without teeth choosing removable dentures @DDUH12 @ucc In Summary A HRB-funded study at Trinity College Dublin and the Dental Hospitals in Dublin and Cork looked at older people who had lost all of their teeth and found that: »» Only 15% of people in the study chose dental implants over removable dentures »» Those who chose implants tended to be younger and more open to new ideas »» People thought the procedure to get implants was more invasive than it is The researchers developed a short questionnaire to help dentists and GPs to identify people who would be likely to benefit from, and want, dental implants. Info for implants: replacing all your lost teeth Trinity College Dublin, lead researcher Prof Brian O’Connell The problem Many older people in Ireland have lost all their natural teeth, which can limit their food choices and affect their confidence and social lives. People who have lost their teeth may be offered dental implants (replacement teeth that are implanted into the jaw) but not everyone wants them – they may want removable dentures or ‘false teeth’ instead. Why do people avoid implants? And how can we tell in advance who is likely to want them? The project A study at the Dental Hospitals in Dublin and Cork, gathered information from 125 older patients who had lost all of their teeth. Everyone on the study got fitted for dentures (false teeth), but they were also offered implants for a nominal cost. Only 15 per cent of the older people in the study chose to get implants, and the researchers looked at what influenced those choices. The outcomes »» People who chose to have dental implants rather than removable false teeth tended to be younger, they had lost teeth more recently and they were more open to new ideas. »» The people who wanted implants were not always the people who clinically needed them the most. »» A short questionnaire that GPs and dentists can use as a tool to evaluate whether a patient is suitable for, and wants dental implants. »» Many people were put off implants because they thought the procedure was more invasive than it is, suggesting that a public education campaign could be of benefit. Prof Brian O’Connell says: “ As the population of Ireland gets older and are more likely to lose teeth, we will face big challenges in dentistry. This HRB-funded project has identified the need for more education and public awareness about dental implants, and we have developed a questionnaire-based tool for GPs and dentists to use to assess a patient’s willingness and suitability for implants.”
  9. 9. 9Health Research in Action In Summary Around one person in every 100 has epilepsy, where over- communication within the brain leads to seizures. HRB-funded research at the Royal College of Surgeons has found a way to target a ‘master regulator’ of how brain cells communicate. Blocking this regulator could reduce or even stop seizures from happening. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are now exploring the approach as a potential new medicine for epilepsy. The outcomes »» A potential new drug to control seizures in epilepsy. »» Contracts with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to develop the potential new therapy further and bring it closer to patients. »» A new method to inject the potential drug so that it can more easily access the brain in epilepsy. »» Several papers in prestigious scientific journals. Professor David Henshall says: “ This is an exciting discovery because it could lead to a new way to lessen or even stop seizures in people with epilepsy. And because microRNAs play such important roles in brain function, being able to access and target them as we have could encourage new therapies for other brain diseases too.” Targeting epilepsy: a new way to control seizures Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, lead researcher - Prof David Henshall The problem Around one in every 100 people has epilepsy, a brain condition where the person has seizures. In Ireland tens of thousands of people have been diagnosed with epilepsy. While seizures are well controlled in a majority, many people continue to experience seizures, so we need to find new ways to protect the brain from these events. The project Professor David Henshall and colleagues at RCSI had previously discovered that a naturally occurring molecule in the body called microRNA134 (miR-134) has a role to play in seizures in epilepsy. MiR-134 helps to control the strength of electrical contact points between brain cells, that can lead to the brain cell connections being easily sparked or excited, which may trigger or amplify a seizure. With funding from the HRB, the team discovered that if you block miR- 134 in an experimental model, the seizures reduce or even stop completely. @HRBIreland research @rcsi_irl has found a new way to calm brain cell communication and control seizures in epilepsy
  10. 10. 10 Health Research in Action @HRBIreland research @ucc found 25% of hospital patients age >70 had dementia (many undiagnosed) & staff felt underprepared In Summary The HRB-funded Cork Dementia Study analysed patients aged over- 70 in Cork hospitals and found that 25% of the patients had dementia, rising to 37% prevalence in smaller rural hospitals. Many patients had not been previously diagnosed. Staff felt underprepared to help such patients. Around half of the people with dementia also had delirium, a short-term confusion that can happen with trauma or illness. The Cork Dementia Study led on to a national audit of dementia among older patients in Irish hospitals, and has identified the need for more education and training among hospital staff and more effective diagnosis of people with dementia in the community before they reach hospital. Shining a light on ‘hidden dementia’ in hospitals University College Cork, lead researcher Dr Suzanne Timmons The problem When older people come into hospital, they may have some trouble with ‘cognitive’ functions like memory and attention. This could be because they have mild or severe dementia (which might not be diagnosed) or a more short-term confusion called delirium, which can be caused by trauma or illness. Up until now we haven’t known the extent of the problem. The project Researchers at University College Cork gathered information about patients over age 70 who were admitted to six hospitals in Cork during a two-week period. Patients who took part in the study were assessed for dementia and delirium, and the researchers also asked hospital staff about their experiences of dealing with older patients who had cognitive issues.
 The outcomes The study showed that: »» A quarter of patients aged over 70 who come in to hospital may have dementia (many undiagnosed) and/or delirium. »» Older patients with pneumonia are more likely to be among the group with dementia or delirium, and patients coming in for elective procedures are less likely to have dementia or delirium. »» Hospital staff often feel underprepared or find it hard to cope when older patients are confused or distressed because of these cognitive issues. The HRB study led on to the National Audit of Dementia (co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies), which gathered information about patients and staff in 47 hospitals around Ireland and was included in the Irish National Dementia Strategy. Dr Suzanne Timmons says: “ Getting the figures for dementia and delirium among older patients in hospitals in Cork has been a really important step, and it has fed into a louder national conversation about the need for more appropriate care for patients with dementia. The Cork Dementia Study has given us a glimpse of how big the problem is, and now we can set about changing practice to improve education and care for hospital patients with dementia in Ireland, such as ensuring patients are moved less, that their medication is appropriate and that staff engage with them in ways they are more likely to understand.”
  11. 11. 11Health Research in Action TB or not TB - boosting the immune response against an ancient killer Trinity College Dublin, lead researcher Dr Laura Gleeson The problem Tuberculosis (TB) is an ancient disease - records of it go back thousands of years - and the bacteria that cause it can ‘hide’ for a long time in the body. We have drug treatments that target the bug that causes TB, but the bacteria have been developing resistance against those drugs, and this issue is set to get even more serious. So could we develop therapies to boost the body’s own immune system to clear the bug more effectively and thereby prevent or manage TB? The project Working with Professor Joe Keane, Dr Laura Gleeson has been looking at ways we can boost our body’s immune response to the bacteria that cause TB. She showed that immune cells called macrophages change the way they burn sugar when they are exposed to TB, and that shift results in them making a cocktail of disease-fighting agents. 
 The outcomes »» We now know more about how immune cells change their biochemistry when they ‘meet’ the bacterium that causes TB, and this helps them fight the disease. »» A paper about the research in the highly respected Journal of Immunology. »» The findings pave the way to look for a new medicine that can ‘switch’ the immune cells on to fight TB more effectively, even if the bugs are resistant to other drugs. Dr Laura Gleeson says: “ Multi-drug resistant TB is already a big problem and it is set to get even bigger. With this better understanding of how our bodies fight the disease we can now look for drugs to give our immune system that boost and help to fight even drug-resistant TB.” In Summary Tuberculosis is a killer, and the bug that causes it is developing resistance against the drugs we have to treat it. HRB-funded research at Trinity College Dublin has discovered one way that our immune systems ‘switch on’ defence mechanisms against the bug, raising the possibility of new medicines to boost our immune systems in the fight against TB. @HRBIreland research @tcddublin finds how immune cells ‘switch on’ to fight TB, opening way for new treatments against the disease
  12. 12. 12 Health Research in Action In Summary HRB-funded research at University College Cork has developed computer software to build models of a patient’s airways and assess suspicious growths based on CT scans. They also developed a device that can be guided through the mouth and deep into the lungs to biopsy nodules without the need for full surgery. Reaching into lungs – a new approach to early biopsies University College Cork, Project leader Dr Pádraig Cantillon-Murphy The problem Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Ireland, but suspicious early nodules growing deep in the airways are sometimes left unbiopsied because conventional endoscopes cannot reach them and other approaches to biopsy (such as needles or surgery) carry larger risks for the patient. The project The research team developed computer software to 3D-map out an individual patient’s airways from images taken in routine CT scans. They also built a catheter-based medical device that can be guided using the computer software ‘sat nav’ towards nodules or tumours deep in the lung. The outcomes »» Computer software that 3D-maps patient airways - this has been made available to the clinical community, and it is already being used by others to build 3D-printed models of patient airways. »» Software that analyses CT images and helps doctors to identify whether nodules are likely to be cancerous based on the patient’s history and the location and appearance of the nodule. »» A new device that can be guided through the lungs in real time to reach distant nodules without the need for surgery. »» Several papers published in academic literature on the development of the mapping software and medical device. »» A collaboration between UCC and the prestigious German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, one of the leading chest cancer centres in the world. Dr Pádraig Cantillon-Murphy says: “ We set out to tackle this problem of finding and analysing small cancerous tumours in the lung, and we have developed not only a new device to do this without surgery but also new ways of mapping and navigating the lung and computer software to help doctors make decisions about scan results. It’s a real case of bringing people with lots of different backgrounds together - doctors, computer software experts, engineers - and getting lots of positive outcomes from working on this very real clinical problem.” @HRBIreland research @ucc has developed technology to assess hard -to-access lung nodules for biopsy without need for full surgery
  13. 13. 13Health Research in Action »» 1 in 2 women leaked some amount of urine during the three months after giving birth. Women who leaked urine during pregnancy, women who were obese and women who were underweight were more likely to leak urine at six months after the birth. With physiotherapists in the Rotunda Hospital, the researchers developed short self-help videos [ videos.php] to raise awareness about leaking urine and how to do exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor to prevent and treat leaking urine. Dr Deirdre Daly says: “ Until now, leaking urine, what healthcare professionals call urinary incontinence, has been something of a hidden issue and perhaps women feel it is just happening to them. But now we have the data to show that it happens to many women before, during and after pregnancy. Our research will also help us to identify the women who are more likely to experience it. This study should encourage all maternity healthcare professionals, including GPs and public health nurses (PHNs) to ask women whether they are leaking urine, and we are providing easy-to-access information to women to help prevent and address it.” Leaking urine before, during and after pregnancy - a hidden problem until now Trinity College Dublin, lead researcher Dr Deirdre Daly The problem During pregnancy and after giving birth, some women leak urine occasionally, especially when laughing, coughing, picking something up or during exercise. Up to now we have had little formal data on how commonly this happens to women in Ireland, nor have we known who is more or less likely to leak urine. The project As part of the MAMMI Study [http://www.], the research team surveyed more than 2,100 women, all first-time mothers, who were attending maternity hospitals in Ireland. Women answered questions about their health and health problems, including leaking urine, leaking stools (bowel motions), pain, sexual health issues, anxiety, depression, relationship issues and intimate partner violence. The study is ongoing. The outcomes We now know that: »» even before pregnancy 1 in 3 women leak urine occasionally and 1 in 12 leak urine once a month or more often. »» in early pregnancy, more than 1 in 3 women leak urine during pregnancy. In Summary HRB-funded research at Trinity College Dublin has found that women who experienced bed- wetting as a child, and women who were obese were more likely to leak urine before their first pregnancy. Women who were overweight, aged 35 years and over, and women who leaked urine before pregnancy were all more likely to leak urine during pregnancy. Three months after giving birth, half of first-time mothers leak urine. At six months, women who leaked urine during pregnancy, women who were obese and women who were underweight were more likely to leak urine. The key message is that leaking urine, while common, is not normal and is easily prevented or treated. The research led to a new set of videos to help women to do specific exercises to prevent and treat leaking urine. @HRBIreland research @tcddublin found 50pc of women sometimes leak urine in months after giving birth & made vids to help avoid it
  14. 14. 14 Health Research in Action @HRBIreland research @ucc solves mysteries of ‘phantom’ pain in Cardiac Syndrome X, enabling better diagnosis and patient health Solving the mystery of unexplained chest pains University College Cork, lead researcher Dr James Dollard The problem For a long time, cardiologists have scratched their heads about patients who show up with chest pains when they exercise (angina) but when you put them on a treadmill for a ’stress test’ or look inside their arteries for blockages, everything seems normal. Patients with this Cardiac Syndrome X often don’t get treated for their pain (which can drag on for years) and they can be at higher risk of psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. Some doctors consider Cardiac Syndrome X to be psychosomatic (arising in the mind of the patient), but science has shown it may be because smaller blood vessels around the heart are not working properly. The project Dr James Dollard identified 17 patients who had Cardiac Syndrome X and followed them for 18 months. He collected information about whether the pains endured or got better, and he analysed blood samples from the patients for markers of inflammation, a process that can damage arteries. The outcomes »» The study found that 1.3% of patients going for coronary angiograms in the study had Cardiac X Syndrome, this is the first report of its frequency in Ireland. »» We now know that patients with Cardiac X Syndrome who have chest pains also have specific biochemical signs of inflammation in their body, offering doctors potential ways to help diagnose and monitor the condition. »» ‘MicroRNAs’ involved in blood vessel function, muscle development and possibly mood are altered in patients with Cardiac X Syndrome who have pain, suggesting biochemical mechanisms that underpin the condition. »» The study should help doctors to better identify patients with Cardiac X Syndrome and ensure they get reassurance and that they avoid expensive and invasive but unnecessary tests. »» A dedicated clinic has been established in Cork for patients with suspected Cardiac X Syndrome. Dr James Dollard says: “ Every specialty has its ‘black sheep’ and in cardiology, a lot of people considered this Cardiac Syndrome X as being in the mind rather than a cardiovascular problem. This research has not only measured how frequently these patients are likely to turn up in the clinic with pain, but it has also measured the biochemical signals that tell us what is going on in the person’s body. Having a label for the pain helps the individual patient - they are reassured and hopefully it means they can get the treatment they need.” In Summary Sometimes patients have chest pains that seem to come from blocked arteries around the heart, but the tests show everything is fine because it is the smaller arteries around the heart that are often causing the trouble. This can lead to patient frustration, expensive and invasive but unnecessary tests and no proper diagnosis or treatment. Thanks to HRB-funded research at University College Cork we now know that around 1% of patients going for angiogram could be Cardiac Syndrome X patients and that Syndrome X pain is linked with specific biochemical signs of inflammation in the body. This helps to dispel the notion that the pain is imagined rather than real, and it could lead to more definitive diagnosis. Because of the findings, a new clinic for Cardiac Syndrome X patients has been set up in Cork.
  15. 15. 15Health Research in Action Software to avoid prescribing inappropriate medicines Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Lead researcher - Professor Tom Fahey The problem Research at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research (based at RCSI) has already shown that more than a third of people over the age of 70 are prescribed one or more ‘potentially inappropriate’ drugs. This can be expensive and unnecessary, and may expose patients to the risks of side effects when they don’t get as great a benefit from the medicine. The project Researchers at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research systematically reviewed the clinical evidence around appropriate prescribing for elderly patients. They then developed computer software and tested it to see how it could support GPs when making decisions about the safest and most appropriate medicine. The outcomes »» A reduction in inappropriate prescriptions of gastrointestinal medications called PPIs for older patients. »» Computer software to support doctors when they are prescribing medicines, to make sure the medicines are the safest and most appropriate kind for elderly patients. »» Software that recommends alternative prescriptions or doses when doctors query a medicine or dosage that could be potentially inappropriate or harmful. »» Published papers about inappropriate prescriptions among older people in Ireland and the software to help overcome the problem. Professor Tom Fahey says: “ Maximal dose PPI drugs are widely prescribed at a large cost to the health budget. We have shown that with this decision-support software we can reduce the prescribing of these medications by GPs at the safest dosage.” @HRBIreland research @rcsi_Irl -> software for GPs that reduced potentially inapprop high-dose prescriptions of PPIs in older people In Summary A study at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research based at the RSCI found that more than a third of people aged over 70 are prescribed one or more ‘potentially inappropriate’ medicines that may cause more harm than good and would benefit from regular clinical review. To help doctors and pharmacists, researchers at the Centre developed computer software that can help prescribers choosing the most appropriate medicines for patients. In a randomised trial, the decision -support software reduced the prescribing of potentially inappropriate medicines, particularly high dosage gastrointestinal drugs called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs).
  16. 16. 16 Health Research in Action Stroke Paul Lambe was driving through the Dublin Port Tunnel when he experienced a massive stroke. He was rushed to hospital where he received a new treatment as part of a clinical trial in Ireland, namely clot-busting drugs followed by thrombectomy - physical clot removal from his brain. As he described it himself, ‘I owe my life to the other Irish patients who participated on this trial. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them’. Link back: Peter Kelly who was instrumental in verifying the thrombectomy procedure through a trial in Ireland received one of the first HRB Clinician Scientist Awards in 2006. He is now Director of the HRB Stroke Clinical Trial Network. Mother and baby health Grainne Foley, whose baby was diagnosed with a potentially dangerous growth restriction in the womb said she was delighted to have the comfort of extra scans as a result of being part of a clinical trial. Her baby boy was born weighing just 1.1kgs. Her son John, who is now four, is living life to the full because screening and interventions were available at the right time through the HRB Perinatal Ireland study. Link back: The HRB Perinatal Ireland study was set up in 2007. Since then this study has led to changes in international guidelines for managing babies in the womb and Fergal Malone who led the project is now Principal Investigator of the HRB Mother and Baby Clinical Trial Network. Patient stories Paul Lambe John Foley
  17. 17. Improving breast cancer treatment When Anne-Marie Meenan was diagnosed with Breast Cancer her oncologist gave her the opportunity to participate in the breast cancer clinical trial called Tailor X. This trial uses a genetic test to predict whether chemotherapy is necessary as part of that particular persons treatment or not. ‘My initial thought was absolutely,’ says Anne-Marie. ‘By being on the trial I felt would have more information about my illness, an understanding of how likely it was to reoccur and whether I actually needed chemotherapy or not. In the end the test showed I did need chemotherapy. It was quite a tough course of treatment, but even at the most difficult points I was driven on by knowing the test had determined I needed to have this treatment for the best outcome’. Link Back: Through the Ireland-Northern Ireland - US Cancer Consortium, the HRB initially provided funding to the Irish Clinical Oncology Research Group in 2002 to grow capacity for cancer clinical trials in Ireland. Now known as Clinical Trials Ireland and co-funded by the Irish Cancer Society, they have created the opportunity for more than 15,000 people in Ireland to participate in cancer trials. Restoring sight In an attempt to restore his deteriorating sight, Patrick Godfrey recently had the first cornea-limbal stem cell transplant in Ireland. The transplant provides a new outer layer of stem cells on the cornea, allowing light to enter the eye and potentially restore vision. It was conducted by Mr William Power, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital. Five months on from the operation Patrick says, ‘This treatment has made a massive improvement to my sight and quality of life. I’m able to do things now I couldn’t possibly have done prior to my operation like reading the newspaper with ease, going to a football match and seeing what’s happening and I’m gradually getting back to driving a car again’. Link Back: Getting the cornea-limbal stem cells to grow in the laboratory was the first challenge and the scientific breakthroughs that led to the transplant were made by Dr Finbarr O’Sullivan and Prof Martin Clynes of the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB) in DCU. This work was funded through a Partnership Award from the HRB in 2007. Health Research in Action 17 Anne-Marie Meenan Patrick Godfrey
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  20. 20. Health Research Board Grattan House 67-72 Lower Mount Street Dublin 2 D02 H638 Ireland t 353 1 234 5000 f 353 1 661 2335 e w