Breast cancer treatment research wins €800,000 SFI award

9 Dec 2020

Image: © ryanking999/

The award was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Puma Biotechnology and will go towards advancing cancer research skills in DCU.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has announced a Strategic Partnerships Award of €800,000 for the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB) at Dublin City University (DCU).

SFI provided €400,000 of the funding and the rest was provided by Puma Biotechnology, a biopharma company that specialises in the acquisition and development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of cancer.

The award will fund Acorn, a project partnership between DCU and Puma Biotechnology, which aims to further investigate the activity of the HER2-positive breast cancer drug neratinib, as well as its potential use in the treatment of other cancer types.

The research will investigate whether neratinib works best alone or with other drugs, and whether there are markers in patient blood or tumours which can predict whether they will respond to neratinib treatment.

‘A real difference’

The Acorn project is led by Prof John Crown and Dr Denis Collins of DCU. It aims to advance cancer research skills in DCU and bring new findings to clinical trials that will benefit cancer patients in Ireland and globally.

Collins and Crown have studied neratinib for several years, with the first comprehensive in-vitro profile of the drug published by the DCU research group in 2013.

“Our research group at DCU has a long history of industry engagement and producing laboratory data that informs clinical studies,” said Crown.

“With the support of SFI and Puma Biotechnology, this Acorn award will create a centre of research excellence in DCU, laying the foundation for novel discoveries that will drive a new wave of clinical investigations.”

Announcing the award, SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson said: “The SFI Strategic Partnership Programme aims to cultivate partnerships across academia and industry to address key research questions and enhance the competitiveness of our economy. The Acorn research programme will enable real progress in cancer research and inform new treatment options for patients with cancer in the future.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said he is delighted to announce the funding for cancer research in Ireland, as more than 3,000 breast cancer cases are diagnosed in the country every year.

“This innovative project has the potential to make a real difference to future treatment options available for cancer patients and I look forward to seeing the impact that this research programme will have for patients and our healthcare system in the future.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic