Date Published: 24-Dec-2009
A SIMPLE blood test could potentially give an accurate breast cancer diagnosis within days and predict the best type of treatment for the patient, thanks to ground breaking research being carried out by NUI, Galway.
The work is being led by Professor Michael Kerin, and involves Dr Helen Heneghan, along with Dr Nicola Miller and Dr John Newell.
Dr Heneghan (28), a Health Research Board-funded Clinical Research Fellow, is currently two years into a PhD programme.
Her work has found that ‘micro RNAs’ are measurable in the blood of breast cancer patients, and that levels of certain miRNAs drop after breast tumours are surgically removed. This means that for the first time molecules can be reliably measured in blood from breast cancer patients, and the levels of mir95 in particular, suggests that it is a breast cancer specific tumour marker.
In practical terms, this research has resulted in a breakthrough blood test for early detection that has never been before, similar to that which is available for prostate cancer.
The research team are the first in the world to develop this sensitive blood test for this particular type of cancer.
The UHG-based laboratory had already begun to delve into this area of research, due to the high prevalence of breast cancer in the West of Ireland, before the Dr. Heneghan came to start her study – which is part of her competitive surgical training.
“My research started with detection in blood; we developed a new technology, or a modification of an old technology, and once it was developed the method was tested on 83 patients, who were predominantly Galway-based,” Dr. Heneghan told The Galway City Tribune this week.
“The 44 controls were healthy local women we knew didn’t have breast cancer, who matched in age the cancer patients.”
At the moment women of 50-64 are screened for the disease; of 1,000, 40 get called back and only seven or eight will have cancer.
“That test takes 15 to 20 minutes, it then has to be read by two radiographers,” says the former NUI, Galway student.
“But there’s a subjective element to it, in that one might see something, while the other may not; and a lump may not even show up, which is called a false negative, that happens in 8% of cases.
“There is a huge amount of work involved in that, but these blood tests would ideally be given to GP surgeries, and the results would be available within days. A lab can do ten samples in half a day.”
Continued on page 2 of this week’s City Tribune
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.