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*Guest contributor* International Clinical Trials Day: Highlighting Irish research on Cancer & COVID

Eibhlín Mulroe is the CEO of Cancer Trials Ireland, a not for profit organisation with a mission to bring Irish patients’ early access to the latest cancer treatments through research and to establish Ireland as a recognised centre of high quality translational and clinical research. She is formerly CEO of the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science, and Industry. Eibhlín has a BSocSc Hons from Queens University Belfast and is an MBA graduate from the Smurfit Business School, University College Dublin.


International Clinical Trials Day: Highlighting Irish research on Cancer and COVID-19



At a time when scientific research has never been more critical, Cancer Trials Ireland recently shared leadership of the Irish celebration of International Clinical Trials Day by highlighting studies investigating the impact of COVID-19 on people with cancer, and also by highlighting people who had taken part in clinical trials.


Cancer treatment and screening may have been hit by COVID-19 in recent months, but people in Ireland can be absolutely certain that the cancer research sector is as committed and proactive as ever, in spite of the crisis. I want to recognise and applaud our funders – including the Health Research Board, the Irish Cancer Society – for their unwavering commitment to cancer research during the pandemic. It is a strong indicator of just how important clinical and cancer trials are for patients in Ireland.


For people with cancer in Ireland, access to trials can be the best treatment option when the standard treatments are not working. It is important that we are able to offer these options at all times despite any societal turbulence. It is critical that we are able to create an infrastructure for clinical trials that can withstand a public health emergency or any other situation that puts up additional barriers to patient participation in trials.


‘Interventional’ (i.e. new treatment) clinical trials in Ireland.


More widely, over a third (37%) of the clinical trials investigating a medicine/treatment/intervention are cancer clinical trials. Overall, there are 209 clinical trials open to recruiting new patients in Ireland, of which 78 of which are cancer clinical trials.1 People interested in learning more about cancer clinical trials should talk to their doctor, and visit the Cancer Trials Ireland website.


“I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for cancer clinical trials”.


One patient who has benefitted from taking part in a cancer clinical trial is Seamus Cotter, who works in the aviation sector in Shannon, and now sits on the Cancer Trials Ireland Patient Consultation Committee. Seamus was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in May 2016. He was eligible for a cancer clinical trial, and by April 2017 his scan showed up clear – as has every scan since then. In his own words: “I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for cancer clinical trials”.


Cancer Trials Ireland & COVID-19

We are currently engaged in the following ways with respect to COVID-19:

· Studying the effects of COVID-19 on patients with cancer in Ireland in real time (COVID-IYON)

· Studying the effects of COVID-19 on people with lung cancer, as part of an international collaboration with Italy (TERAVOLT)

· Assisting the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) in applying for ethical approval for two COVID/Patient Registry studies


Further details on the COVID-IYON study

Cancer Trials Ireland is currently supporting on an observational study across 12 cancer care and malignant haematology care centres in Ireland to better understand the effect that COVID-19 is having on cancer patients who have contracted the virus.


The study is led by Professor Linda Coate, University Hospital Limerick and Dr. Colm MacEochagain, SpR, University Hospital Limerick. Studies like this one are critical in the developing the healthcare system’s understanding of how best to support the community of people with cancer.

References: 1 https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/

CONTACT

Irish Patients’ Association,

Email: info@irishpatients.ie

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