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UCD lead research to accelerate the development of cancer and ophthalmic treatments

UCD is leading a new international industry-academia consortium to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions for cancer and eye disease through enhanced intersectoral and transnational research cooperation. The Horizon 2020 Programme brings together a unique group of microbiologists, cancer biologists, chemists, material scientists, mechanical engineers, ocular pharmacologists, geneticists and toxicologists from nine academic and nine non-academic partner organisations in seven countries with funding of e945,000 over four years.Through staff exchanges of periods ranging from one month to one year, participants will learn new skills, share knowledge and have the opportunity to work on joint research and innovation projects in oncology and ophthalmology in academic and commercial institutions across Europe. The aim is to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions for oncology and ophthalmology. Dr Breandán Kennedy, Associate Professor in the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and a Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute said the programme would be a fantastic opportunity to enhance career development, facilitate knowledge sharing and enable new skills acquisition and ultimately will form a sustainable network of academics and SMEs who can collectively overcome obstacles in the development of therapeutics for oncology and ophthalmology.” The first consortium meeting took place in UCD last week.

Why teddy bears went to hospital

Children between the ages of four and ten flocked to attend the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s (RCSI) third annual Teddy Bear Hospital. Over 200 children brought their sick teddies for treatment at the event in aid of BUMBLEance, the Children’s National Ambulance Service. This free event proved to be the largest one to date and targeted the education of children about healthcare in an enjoyable and interactive environment so that they do not fear a hospital environment.80 RCSI student volunteers led the young teddy owners through the hospital, treating their furry friends for everything from broken legs, to asthma, to cardiac arrest. All were said to have left with their adoring owners with a “new lease of life”.

National emergency endovascular service urged for acute stroke in Ireland

A health technology assessment (HTA) published last week by the Health Information and Quality Authority has recommended establishment of a national emergency service providing next generation stroke therapy in two hospital sites in Ireland for selected stroke patients, the treatment would be in addition to the standard medical care for stroke. In comprehensive stroke centres, the HIQA HTA found that endovascular treatment with mechanical thrombectomy using tiny devices to physically retrieve clots from the brain is safe and effective when provided in addition to the current standard medical care. Dr. Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health Technology Assessment, commented: “Based on doing 268 procedures a year in carefully selected patients, an additional 57 patients are predicted to regain functional independence at 90 days after a stroke. This represents a substantial improvement, with almost 60 per cent regaining functional independence compared with less than 40 per cent  without the procedure. Expanding access to mechanical thrombectomy in Ireland has implications for the organisation of acute stroke service to ensure efficient presentation, identification and treatment of patients in the first hours after the onset of the symptoms of a stroke.” The findings have been presented as advice to Minister for Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Out-of-hours access to mental health services a priority

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee TD, has said that work is underway on a roadmap for improved out-of-hours access to mental health services. Last week the Minister received a petition of almost 12,000 signatures from Shari McDaid, on behalf of the Mental Health Reform, A Lust for Life, Uplift and Future Voices at Leinster House. The campaign is calling for the delivery of Holistic, 24/7 community based crisis mental health services across Ireland. Minister McEntee said: “Improving access to mental health services is a key priority for me as Minister and work is underway in this area. I am glad to say that specific actions are in place around many of the issues raised in the petition. I am now working with my Department and the HSE on a roadmap to achieve both 7/7, and in due course 24/7 access, to mental health services across the country”.