MIRT, founded by Dr. Peter O’Gorman, Consultant Haematologist, at the Mater University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, started in 2006 after a visit to Ireland by Professor Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, Medical Director, Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA. The collaborationresulted in a travelling fellowship program. Medical doctors in the Irish haematology training scheme take time out of their clinical training to obtain a PhD thesis that is co-supervised by Dr O’Gorman, Prof Martin Clynes in Dublin , Prof Ken Anderson and Dr Constatin Mitsiades in the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
The programme so far has resulted in three PhDs and two MD theses in clinical research. Dr Peter O’Gorman explained that by providing opportunities for career development, including experience working with world leaders in the field at Dana Farber/Harvard University, MIRT is planning for a future generation of carers and clinical scientists who will bring better treatment outcomes for patients and employment opportunities for Ireland through commercial innovation.
The basic science programmes focus on resistance mechanisms in multiple myeloma (MM) in order to develop new successful treatments for the disease. Prof Clynes’ team focus on proteomic and genomic analysis to try and predict the response rates of patients with MM. This approach led to the development of a predictive biomarker profile for Multiple Myeloma patients treated with Thalidomide therapy as part of Dr Raj Rajpal’s PhD project. Dr O’Gorman explained that “By developing and patenting the first predictive thera-nostic biomarker profile in the field of Multiple Myeloma we have opened the door to personalising patient therapies to maximise patient response rates to treatment of all blood cancers”.
Another very important element of the work performed at MIRT is in the area of clinical trials. Dr Peter O’Gorman who is National Haematology Modality Clinical Trials Co-ordinator with the Irish Clinical Oncology Research Group (ICORG) explained that clinical trials are a very important focus for the group. He explained “when patients run out of options for treatment, it is important that they get access to unlicensed medicines through clinical trial programmes. There are several clinical trials of new therapies for patients with blood cancer opening in Ireland in 2012 including Perifosine (an Akt inhibitor and a PI3K inhibitor), Elotuzumab (a human-ized monoclonal antibody) and Denusomab (a fully human monoclonal antibody).
In summary, Dr O’Gorman explained “the MIRT mentorship, clinical trial and scientific research programmes are very much patient focussed. The clinical trial program results in new drugs being made available to patients in a timely manner.
The training programmes are delivering a new generation of consultants that are innovative and advocate on behalf of the patients and have excellent international and local networks. Ultimately the result will be better care, better treatments and improved outcomes for patients with blood cancer”.