A Science Foundation Ireland founded Strategic Research Cluster in association with DCU, UCD, TCD, RCSI and ICORG

Welcome to Molecular Therapeutics for Cancer Ireland

Molecular Therapeutics for Cancer, Ireland (MTCI) was a Science Foundation Ireland-funded Strategic Research Cluster from 2009-2014. The virtual network of cancer researchers brought together through this intial grant continue to work together.

There is an urgent need for improved drug treatments for cancer, which is emerging as the leading cause of mortality in Ireland and other western countries. Traditional cancer chemotherapy has resulted in improved outcomes for some types of cancer, but remains a generally unsatisfactory form of treatment, with low rates of cure, and prominent side-effects.

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The developmental process for many of these older drugs was based on a form of trial and error, i.e. candidate chemicals were administered to cancer cells to see if they stopped them from growing. If they did, they were taken to further levels of testing and ultimately given to patients with cancer. As such it is not surprising that activity was often marginal, and toxicity was common.

There is now a much greater understanding of the molecular basis of malignancy, and multiple potential molecular targets for new drugs have been identified. The introduction of novel rationally designed molecularly targeted treatments has revolutionised the treatment of some types of cancer. The best example is imatinib, an agent which has resulted in a dramatically improved outcome for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia, and with gastro-intestinal stromal tumours. Another drug, trastuzumab (better known as herceptin) has resulted in substantially improved outcome for patients with one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. Molecular treatments have also improved the outcome for patients with other tumours including cancers of the colon, kidney, lung and lymph system.

The developmental process for these new anticancer drugs has undergone radical change in the molecular era. Unlike the empirical approach used to discover chemotherapy drugs, the new approach is mechanistic and molecular.

Another critical difference is that the new approach is “translational”, i.e. it involves intense interaction between laboratory and clinical investigators. Thus, modern cancer drug development begins with recognition of clinical need, and progresses through molecular target identification, drug synthesis, pre-clinical testing, clinical trials and molecular analysis of tissue samples from treated patients

Many critical components of the development process for molecular cancer therapeutics exist in Ireland, but are dispersed across multiple institutions. Molecular Therapeutics for Cancer Ireland represents an attempt to capitalise on potential synergies between these resources, in order to develop “Ireland Inc.” as a site for cancer drug development.


11 July 2014



HOSTS The 9th International Symposium on Translational Research in Oncology

Dublin, Ireland.

           Meeting Faculty: Professor John Crown, Dr. Dennis Slamon, Prof. Robert Kerbel and Prof Joe Duffy 

      Save the Dates! 

Friday September 30th and Saturday October 1st  2016  

Confirmed speakers include:

Dr. Richard Finn (UCLA),  

Dr. Mike Press (Southern California),

Dr. Neil O’Brien (UCLA),

Prof Bob Kerbel (Toronto),

Dr Mario Sznol (Yale),

Dr Lajos Puzstai (Yale),

Prof Igor Roninson (South Carolina).

Further information to follow.

To reserve your place contact Karen Culhane email: karen.culhane at ccrt.ie



MTCI awarded Collaboration Achievement Award!

MTCI has received the Collaboration Achievement Award from the Irish Laboratory Awards which took place on Tuesday, December 3rd 2013. 



Please click on the link below for further information on upcoming and past events.


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Recent Publications 

O'Hurley G, Prencipe M, Lundon D, O'Neill A, Boyce S, O'Grady A, Gallagher WM, Morrissey C, Kay EW, Watson RW. The analysis of serum response factor expression in bone and soft tissue prostate cancer metastases. Prostate. 2014 Feb;74(3):306-13. doi: 10.1002/pros.22752. PubMed PMID: 24249383

Duffy MJ, Crown J. Precision treatment for cancer: Role of prognostic and predictive markers. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2014 Feb;51(1):30-45. doi: 10.3109/10408363.2013.865700. Epub 2014 Jan 16. PubMed PMID: 24432844

Candon D, Healy J, Crown J. Modelling the cost-effectiveness of adjuvant lapatinib for early-stage breast cancer. Acta Oncol. 2014 Feb; 53(2);201-8. doi: 10.3109/0284186X.2013.840740. Epub 2013 Oct 14. PubMed PMID: 24125103

Hill AF, Pegtel DM, Lambertz U, Leonardi T, O'Driscoll L, Pluchino S, Ter-Ovanesyan D, Nolte-'t Hoen EN. ISEV position paper: extracellular vesicle RNA analysis and bioinformatics. J Extracell Vesicles. 2013 Dec 23;2. doi: 10.3402/jev.v2i0.22859. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 24376909

Mulrane L, McGee SF, Gallagher WM, O'Connor DP. miRNA dysregulation in breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2013 Nov 15;73(22):6554-62. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-1841. Epub 2013 Nov 7. Review. PubMed PMID: 24204025

O'Hurley G, Daly E, O'Grady A, Cummins R, Quinn C, Flanagan L, Pierce A, Fan Y, Lynn MA, Rafferty M, Fitzgerald D, Pontén F, Duffy MJ, Jirström K, Kay EW, Gallagher WM. Investigation of molecular alterations of AKT-3 in triple-negative breast cancer. Histopathology. 2013 Oct 19. doi: 10.1111/his.12313. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24138071

Canonici A, Gijsen M, Mullooly M, Bennett R, Bouguern N, Pedersen K, O'Brien NA, Roxanis I, Li JL, Bridge E, Finn R, Siamon D, McGowan P, Duffy MJ, O'Donovan N, Crown J, Kong A. Neratinib overcomes trastuzumab resistance in HER2 amplified breast cancer. Oncotarget. 2013 Oct;4(10):1592-605. PubMed PMID: 24009064

O'Neill F, Madden SF, Clynes M, Crown J, Doolan P, Aherne ST, O'Connor R. A gene expression profile indicative of early stage HER2 targeted therapy response. Mol Cancer. 2013 Jul 1;12:69. doi: 10.1186/14764598-12-69. PubMed PMID: 23816254

Madden SF, Clarke C, Aherne ST, Gaule P, O'Donovan N, Crown J, Clynes M, Gallagher WM. BreastMark: an integrated approach to mining publicly available transcriptomic datasets relating to breast cancer outcome. Breast Cancer Res. 2013 Jul 2;15(4):R52. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23820017


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