A PhD student who received a scholarship from the Brid Carr Ovarian Cancer Research fund has reported a significant find.

Jennifer Quinn, a final year student at the Cork Cancer Research Centre, benefited from a scholarship part-funded in memory of beloved Donegal woman Brid Carr.

Ms Quinn’s studies are focused on poor prognosis cancers, specialising in Ovarian Cancer.

She has recently uncovered a possible reason why ovarian cancer commonly returns after treatment and is subsequently more difficult to treat.

Jennifer Quinn, PhD student with the Autophagy group at Cork Cancer Research Centre. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ms Quinn has studied a possible link between autophagy, which is a process that cells use to cope with damage and stress, and the treatment of the disease.

In her recent update, she said: “We believe that ovarian cancer cells are using the autophagy process to recover from the damage inflicted by chemotherapy. During the past year, I have been treating ovarian cancer cells with chemotherapy drugs used in the clinic, such as Paclitaxel and Carboplatin.

“After treatment, I have shown that the cancer cells can recover their DNA profile and regrow. Importantly, I have demonstrated that the autophagy process is increased during the cell’s recovery. By blocking autophagy, I have been able to significantly reduce the survival of OC cells following chemotherapy treatment, indicating a role for autophagy in chemoresistance.

“This exciting discovery will be investigated further during the remainder of my project, with the aim of targeting autophagy in ovarian cancer patients to prevent the cancer from returning following chemotherapy treatment.”

The late Brid Carr

Brid Carr was a native of Glencolmcille who died from Ovarian Cancer at the age of 54. She had been living in London with her family when she passed away in 2014. After her death. Brid’s family carried on her admirable work in raising awareness of ovarian cancer. Many events have taken place in Brid’s memory over the years to raise money for Ovarian cancer research.

Most recently, over 50 cyclists took part in a 100K cycle organised by The Kelly Group and Tir Chonaill Gaels GAA Club in London.

Tir Chonaill Gaels and the Kelly Group Cycle for Cancer Research

The fund was also the beneficiary of the Rundonegal Women’s 5k in 2015 and 2017 and was considered by the GAA, Croke Park as one of their selected charities in 2017.  Their donation to Breakthrough Cancer Research was €25,000.

Ms Jennifer Quinn’s 3 year PhD scholarship at CCRC cost €110,000 in total. Half of this was funded 50/50 by the Brid Carr fund and Breakthrough Cancer Research.

Brid’s family believe that supporting research will improve the prognosis for ovarian cancer patients.

Her sister Rosemary Foy said: “We strongly believe that the way forward to beating this disease is through Research. We are committed to continuing this. Your support, ongoing, would be greatly appreciated.”

In December 2017, the fundraising team donated €20,000 to the Cork Cancer Research Centre towards specialised equipment for research. They have also supported clinical trials in Ovarian Cancer undertaken by Professor Jonathan Ledermann (who was Brid’s Consultant in University Hospital London) to the amount of £10,000.

The total raised so far from the Cycle, Auction and Raffle last month is €9,700  The family are in discussions with Cork Cancer Research Centre regarding different projects, including co-funding another PhD scholarship.

“The Organising Committee wish to thank most sincerely everyone who supported, any or all, of our fundraising events, volunteered or donated online over the last few years.  It would not have been possible to do this without your support. We hope that you will continue to support this very worthy cause,” Rosemary added.

If you would like to support the most recent Donegal Cycle for Cancer Research, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/donegalcycleforcancerresearch