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Queen's University experts join fight against pancreatic cancer

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 15/09/2015

Kerry Irvine with husband Noel who died from pancreatic cancer in 2010
Kerry Irvine with husband Noel who died from pancreatic cancer in 2010

Research experts at Queen's University will be involved in a multi-million pound transatlantic programme to develop a new "miniscule" treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The worldwide team aim to create technology - so tiny that it is invisible to the naked eye - to deliver drugs directly to the cancer and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments. The US-Ireland partnership involving teams from New York and Dublin have been awarded £2.9m with the Belfast researchers receiving £735,000 over five years.

It is believed the treatment has the potential to help "change lives". In Northern Ireland an average of 220 cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year.

The grant has been awarded under the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme and involves experts in drug delivery and cancer research at Queen's, Dublin City University and the University at Buffalo.

Kerry Irvine from Co Armagh who lost her 54-year-old husband Noel to pancreatic cancer seven months after being diagnosed in 2010, said news of such projects was "welcome".

"It does give you hope when you hear about these types of projects," she said.

"But the fact is that we still need improved diagnosis at an early stage if more lives are to be saved."

The 42-year-old mother-of-two said now campaigns for Pancreatic Cancer Actions and established the Fund For Noel to help people in Northern Ireland.

Queen's University Professor Christopher Scott, who is leading the project, said: "Many chemotherapies could be more effective, and induce fewer side effects, if they could access the tumour more easily. This is what we aim to examine in this project.

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