A U.S. doctor known as the 'Gene Stalker' who is determined to cure cancer is visiting Dublin for talks in pioneering new research.
Dennis Slamon is the oncologist who created the wonder drug Herceptin which has prolonged the lives of countless breast cancer patients worldwide.
The director of UCLA's Clinical/Translational Research is in Dublin for meetings with Irish consultants and scientists about groundbreaking new research.
While working as an oncologist in the 1970s, Dr Slamon decided to examine breast cancer not as a single disease but broken down into several subtypes. During his research he focused on a protein HER-2 positive, found in a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. The oncologist then developed a drug Herceptin which when combined with chemotherapy dramatically increases survival rates.
After a 12-year battle of clinical trials the drug was finally approved in 2006. Now woman with Her-2 positive tumors have some of the best survival rates amongst breast cancer patients.
“Since the introduction of the drug, it's had a dramatic response for the women who respond to it. Not all women respond, but the ones who do seem to do very well, and we now have long-term survivors in this subtype, which we never had before,” Slamon told Lifetime TV.
Dr Slamon has worked closely with Professor John Crown at St. Vincent's hospital in Dublin since the early stages of Herceptin drug trials. Professor Crown is the head of the Cancer Clinical Research Trust in Ireland.
Slamon praised Ireland's cancer care describing Irish oncologists as “forward thinking”. They are "every bit as good as any oncologists I have ever worked with anywhere in the world," he told the Irish Independent.
'I was aware that they were willing to think innovatively and think outside the box, which is why I approached Professor Crown about the collaboration," he explained.
For Irish woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer the future is positive Slamon said: "Their chances of surviving their breast cancer are very high. Mortality rates are down. The survivability of this disease is way up over what it was just 15 years ago."