The Clinical Cancer Research Trust (CCRT) was founded in 1997 by Prof. John Crown.
The CCRT has developed an international leadership role in oncology trials, and 11,000 women around the world have now been enrolled on six randomised trials which were chaired or co-chaired by Professor Crown. In recent years, Professor Crown has developed an inter-institutional programme of bi-directional translational breast cancer research in collaboration with University College Dublin, Dublin City University and international collaborations with UCLA.
The research team at these sites includes senior scientists, postdoctoral scientists and postgraduate students, in addition to his research nurses, scientists and support staff based in many leading Dublin institutions. Professor Crown was awarded a Health Research Board (HRB) Clinician Scientist Award in 2007, which provides protected time for research. As a result, Professor Crown now has an increasing involvement at the clinical-laboratory research interface, where he provides direction for laboratory research that addresses questions arising from clinical observations. He also designs and implements clinical research based on laboratory-derived hypotheses.
BREAKING THE CANCER CHAIN
Cancer is emerging as the principal cause of death in Ireland and other Western countries. Very few Irish families have not been touched by this disease. There is an urgent need for improved treatments for cancer. There has been a dramatic change in the process of cancer drug discovery in recent years. Chemotherapy was the principal type of drug treatment of cancer.
Chemotherapy drugs are cellular poisons that kill fast growing cells. As cancer cells usually grow faster than normal cells, they are preferentially killed. Chemotherapy represented an important advance and resulted in improved survival for many common cancers, especially breast and colo-rectal malignancies. Other uncommon types of cancer such as childhood malignancy and some types of blood cancer were cured. However, overall, the results of chemotherapy were disappointing, and moreover, the treatment was toxic, producing unwanted side effects in many patients.
Cancer research has now entered the “translational” era. Translational research refers to the marriage of laboratory and clinical (i.e. patient orientated) research. Translational investigators attempt to identify specific differences between the molecular structure of the cancer cell and normal cells, and then to work out ways to “drug” them with highly specific molecularly targeted agents, which are tested in various laboratory systems and ultimately in cancer patients. This relatively new process has already resulted in improved treatments for patients with certain types of breast, lung, colon and other cancers.
There is a real danger that some of this progress may be lost due to cutbacks in research funding. Your support for the Cancer Clinical Research Trust will help our team of scientists and doctors to continue to investigate promising new strategies for cancer treatment.
Professor Crown is internationally recognised for his progressive research into improving the effects of chemotherapy dosage on cancer patients. He has received a merit award from the European Society for Medical Oncology for his work in breast cancer research — the first Irish oncologist to have received such recognition.