Monday, October 2, 2023

Irish researchers receive international funding for projects on deprescribing and chemotherapy

Two Irish health experts have been awarded more than two and a half million euros

Dr Frank Moriarty of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Prof Martin O’Halloran of the University of Galway have this week been awarded funding totalling over €2.5 million as part of new research into deprescribing and chemotherapy.

Dr Moriarty, RCSI Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has received a €2.4 million Career Development Award from health charity Wellcome to advance new methods to research deprescribing – the planned process of reducing or stopping medicines that may no longer be of benefit or may be causing harm. The grant will run over eight years, starting in 2024.

Professor Martin O’Halloran, University of Galway. Pic: Picasa

The research will take advantage of ‘big data’, using large amounts of information already collected as part of routine healthcare, such as GP and hospital visits. New methods from pharmacoepidemiology will be used to analyse these datasets and improve our understanding of deprescribing practices.

Deprescribing is becoming a major area of interest as people live longer and are prescribed increasing numbers of medications, raising the risk of potential adverse effects.

The DIAMOND project (Developing Innovative Analytical Methods for research on Deprescribing) will also include the development of a tool to identify patients most at risk of side effects from antidepressant medicines. Given people can respond very differently to these medicines, this will help support the monitoring and review of antidepressants to promote the best outcomes for patients with mental health conditions.

Dr Frank Moriarty, Senior Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Pic: Maxwells

“The evidence we hope to generate through innovative, data-driven approaches will improve the quality of healthcare to benefit population health,” Dr Moriarty said of the planned research. “We are embedding open science in this project, by sharing our methods and tools for other researchers to use in future studies and maximise our impact.”

As well as supporting research efforts and access to datasets, it will facilitate the recruitment, training and development of new researchers. Dr Moriarty’s team will also collaborate on the project with researchers from University College Cork, University College London, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of British Columbia and Complutense University of Madrid.

Meanwhile, Prof O’Halloran, Techrete Professor of Medical Electronics, Executive Director of BioInnovate Ireland and Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at University of Galway, has been awarded €150,000 from the European Research Council.

The ‘Proof of Concept’ grant will go towards his work on NeuroProtect, a novel therapy to prevent peripheral neuropathy in patients undergoing chemotherapy. The side-effect results in nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) being damaged and can lead to weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet which can cause significant disability and pain for cancer patients.

“This represents our seventh European Research Council grant since 2015 and addresses a medical problem significant to cancer patients – to minimise the long-term side effects of chemotherapy,” Prof O’Halloran said. “It builds on ever growing collaborations between engineering and medicine at the University, and we hope to have an impact in the clinic in the very near future.”

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