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New £1.5M cross-border cancer research project

New treatment options for cancers with low survival rates are to be developed as the result of a new £1.5 million project between Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin.

Researchers at Queen’s have identified a number of biological targets, such as suicide genes in cells, which they hope will be stimulated by new drug compounds. Along with colleagues at Trinity, researchers at Queen's will design, synthesize and test the new compounds.

The funding for the cross-border project comes from Northern Ireland’s Department for Employment and Learning.

Professor Dennis McCance, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology said: “Queen’s has expertise in identifying potential biological targets which could react to drug compounds. Our partners in Trinity are leaders in computational chemistry, whereby computers are used to design drugs given the structure of the target in the body.

“Therefore, putting our medicinal chemistry expertise along with Trinity’s expertise in computational chemistry will help ease a potential bottleneck in drug discovery across the island of Ireland, leading to new treatment options for those cancers with poor survival rates.”

The project is the first cross-border project of its type and will create in the region of 12 jobs initially. It is hoped that discoveries arising from the project will lead to spin-off companies and an increase in related jobs at pharmaceutical companies through the licensing of any new drugs.

The project is the latest in a round of projects at Queen’s to be awarded funding from the Department for Employment and Learning.

Earlier this month, the University received £7 million under the Cross-Border Research and Development Funding Programme.

The £7 million is being used to create five world-class research centres.

The centres will focus on the areas of next generation mobile networks, safety and traceability of agri-foods, diet and obesity, biomedical informatics research to accelerate drug discovery and identifying novel therapeutics of importance to many chronic diseases.

The centres will establish the island of Ireland as a significant force in addressing global challenges and indigenous industry and the all-ireland research base which will both be strengthened as a result of the investment.

Lisa Mitchell | alfa
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