Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) – Open Day 17 February 2018

As part of the NI Science Festival the public are welcome to the CCRCB Open Day on Saturady 17 February 2018 at 10am – 2.30pm.  This event is ‘Celebrating a decade of advances in cancer research in Belfast.’  Drop in to hear about clinical trials, the NI Biobank and population-based cancer research.  Meet staff from the NICTN and members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum.  There are lab tours and interative activities for all the family.  Book places for talks at 10.30 and 12.30 via the NI Science Festival to hear from leading researchers who are translating science into clinical practice.  See the full programme here.

Successful Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Showcase

Showcase speakers (left-right) Front Row: Dr Carmel Conefrey, Miss Cliona Kirwan, Mrs Margaret Grayson. Back Row: Professor Rob Stein, Mr Stuart McIntosh, Professor Daniel Rea, Dr Indrani Bhattacharya

The NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) were delighted to welcome over 50 attendees to a Breast Cancer Trials Showcase held in CCRCB 14 November 2017.  The meeting, chaired by Mr Stuart McIntosh, NICTN Deputy Clinical Director, brought together national trial leads, breast cancer MDT members from across the region, scientists and patient/carer representatives from the NI Cancer Trials Forum (NICRCF).   The event was a great success with the majority of people who completed evaluations rating the meeting as ‘excellent’ and ‘highly relevant’.  Visiting speakers included Professor Daniel Rea, University of Birmingham, Chair of the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group, Miss Cliona Kirwan, University of Manchester and Professor Rob Stein, UCHL. The event led to lively discussion in relation to a range of issues following excellent presentations on clinical trials in the setting of personalised treatment in breast cancer:

ROSCO: Is there a role for CEP17/TOP2A testing in selecting anthracycline or taxane chemotherapy as neo-adjuvant chemotherapy for early breast cancer?

LORIS: Is active monitoring non-inferior to surgery in non-high grade DCIS, in terms of ipsilateral invasive breast cancer free survival time?

PRIMETIME: The risk of ipsilateral invasive breast disease following selection of women categories as very low risk by IHC4+C to direct selective avoidance of breast radiotherapy?

OPTIMA: Does multi-parameter analysis directed treatment assignment reduce chemotherapy use for patients with hormone sensitive primary breast cancer without detriment to recurrence and survival?

Professor Daniel Rea presenting at the Breast Cancer Trials Showcase, CCRCB, 14 Nov 2017

A session on trial decision aids was presented by Dr Indrani Bhattacharya from the Institute of Cancer Research.  Margaret Grayson, Chair of the NICRCF, stated that patients wanted to hear about clinical trials but highlighted the findings of the NI Cancer Patient Experience Survey that reported clinical trials had not been discussed with the majority of patients.  Dr Carmel Conefrey, from the University of Bristol, delivered the final session of the afternoon which focused on the challenges of patient recruitment to trials of less treatment.  She concluded with a comment that had been a recurring theme throughout the afternoon – a cohesive MDT is key to facilitating recruitment to clinical trials!

NICTN wish to thank Roche who kindly supported catering for the event. They also wish to thank staff from NICTN, NIB and CRUK for information stands, and Caroline Crothers, CRUK Research Engagement Manager, for supporting event co-ordination.

Showcase Photos 1 14.11.17

Showcase Photos 2 14.11.17

Clinical Trial Results – Import Low

Belfast was one of 30 centres that took part in the Import Low clinical trial. From 2007 – 2010 over 2000 women, aged 50 and above, participated in the study following breast conserving surgery for early breast cancer.  Women were randomised to one of 3 groups:

  • standard whole-breast radiotherapy
  • whole-breast radiotherapy with full dose radiotherapy to the original tumour site and reduced dose to the rest of the breast
  • partial-breast radiotherapy

The results of the trial were published in the Lancet in September 2017.

The report indicated that local relapse rates were similarly low in all groups and women in the partial-breast radiotherapy group reported fewer long-term changes relating to breast appearance and feel.

Margaret Grayson, Chair of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum commented; ‘The results of the Import Low Trial are important to women diagnosed with early breast cancer in relation to their radiotherapy treatment and will also impact on quality of life issues. Thank you to the 2018 women throughout the UK who took part in this Trial which continues to highlight the importance of research and how vital clinical trials are to us as a population.’

The study was sponsored by the Institute of Clinical Research and funded by Cancer Research UK.

Breast Cancer Trials Showcase 14 Nov 2017

The NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) welcomes national leaders in breast cancer clinical trials to an exciting event showcasing clinical trials in the NICTN portfolio. The meeting will be held 14 November 2017 in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen’s University Belfast.  Researchers and members of multi-professional teams from across NI, alongside the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF), will hear from researchers leading trials in a range of breast cancer treatment settings.  Any healthcare professional or NICRCF member wishing to attend should contact the NICTN.  Please see Flyer 14 Nov17 Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Showcase Website v2 and NICTN showcase agenda 14_11_17 v4.0 for further details.

Congratulations to Dr Cherith Semple – Queen’s Honour for Services to Nursing

Dr Cherith Semple

NICTN warmly congratulate Dr Cherith Semple on her recent and very well-deserved award of an MBE for services to nursing.  Cherith was appointed to the role of Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist in Head and Neck Cancer in 1999 and in 2006 completed her PhD exploring post-treatment needs of patients with head and neck cancer and developed a psychosocial intervention.   Based at the South Eastern HSC Trust, Cherith has worked with the NICTN in clinical research in the field of head and neck cancer, and is very active in research relating to her interest in survivorship and post-treatment quality of life issues for patients.

NICTN deeply saddened by the sudden death of Professor Patrick Johnston

The staff of NICTN are deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Professor Patrick (Paddy) Johnston on 4 June 2017.  Professor Johnston, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, provided unparalleled vision and leadership in cancer research in Northern Ireland.   His work has received national and international recognition.

After he took up the post of Professor and Head of the Department of Oncology, QUB, in 1996, Paddy was the driving force behind the establishment of the NI Cancer Clinical Trials Unit in 1999, which became the current NICTN.   He also led on the grant to establish the Belfast Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.  He was instrumental in the development of the US National Cancer Institute/All-Ireland Cancer Consortium and supported international collaboration, including specific training programmes in cancer clinical trials, which benefited a great number of staff, researchers and patients.

He was a tireless advocate for the development of the NI Cancer Centre, which opened in 2006, and he established the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology in QUB, which opened in 2007, creating a comprehensive cancer centre model in Belfast, for which he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Award in 2012.  Paddy was a member of many national and international research committees and bodies.  His own research programme was in the field of bowel cancer and emphasised translational research.

Throughout Paddy’s clinical and academic life he promoted excellence, a patient/carer focus, teamwork, multi-professional working, education, collaboration and relationships across all sectors and boundaries, to the benefit of patients and the wider society.  NICTN are indebted to his dynamic and inspirational leadership and his ceaseless striving for clinical and translational research to be embedded as an integral component of healthcare.  Our deepest sympathies go to his wife Iseult and his family.  The greatest tribute that we can offer him is to further his vision and legacy by continuing to promote and deliver excellence in clinical and translational cancer research.

International Clinical Trials Day – A Celebration of Cancer Research Partnership

The NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) based at the NI Cancer Centre celebrated International Clinical Trials Day 19 May 2017. The event highlighted the importance of partnership working for research success. NICTN staff joined forces with members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum and supporting charities to raise awareness among staff, patients and the public, highlighting:

  • HSC R&D ‘OK to Ask about Clinical Research’ Campaign
  • Seventy cancer research studies currently open to recruitment
  • Opportunities for patients and carers to work in partnership with researchers

Staff, patients and visitors expressed their support for clinical research at an information stand in the NI Cancer Centre foyer. Several patients acknowledged their appreciation for research to bring advances in treatment and care.

Renewal of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Status

NICTN are delighted Belfast has received renewal of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) status following an international review process. Belfast ECMC is a collaboration of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, QUB, and Belfast HSC Trust. This brings together science and early phase clinical research to support innovative treatments to transform patients’ lives.   Belfast ECMC is jointly funded by HSC Research and Development Division and Cancer Research UK.   Belfast ECMC integrates fully with the wider ECMC Network, comprised of 20 Centres within the UK.

Jenny Foreman RCNi Nurse Awards Finalist

Congratulations to Jenny Foreman, South Eastern Trust (SET), who was a finalist at the recent RCNi national Nurse Awards 2017 in the ‘Excellence in Cancer Research’ category. Jenny’s commitment to high quality research and patient care have led to role innovation and excellent patient feedback. Well done!