LEO Pharma - RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

RCSI hosts the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology (ICVB) led BY Professor James O’Donnell. This centre comprises an integrated network of research groups across Irish hospitals and universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland that are actively engaged in the field of vascular research. This concept arose out of the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis conference held as RCSI in 2018 that also yielded a collaborative research project between RCSI’s Dr Jamie O’Sullivan (based in the ICVB) and LEO Pharma, one of Ireland’s longest established multinational pharmaceutical companies with a significant presence in the Irish pharmaceutical market over the last 60 years.

The aim of this two-year study, which began in 2019, is to better understand how breast cancer cells exploit the coagulation system to propagate cancer spread in the body and how this may be inhibited by anti-thrombotic agents. Cancer patients have a high risk of developing blood clots or thrombosis with clot formation or thrombosis being the second leading cause of death for all cancer patients. This study is an entirely novel approach and represents the first systematic investigation into the role coagulation proteins play in breast cancer metastasis.

LEO Pharma is a world leader in thrombotic (blood clotting) case and has contributed funding as well as significant intellectual property to the study. The company has also offered a medical education grant to enable the researchers involved. RCSI brings specific know-how relating to novel interactions between coagulation proteins and breast cancer cells and how this interaction can be weakened by the anti-thrombotic agents formulated by LEO Pharma.

The Research and Innovation Office at RCSI enabled this collaboration through helping the company understand from the start RCSI’s approach to industry collaboration, providing contract negotiation support and securing funding for the project under the RCSI Strategic Industry Partnership Seed Fund. Principal Investigator Dr Jamie O’ Sullivan Commented,

“This collaboration, and the support provided by the RCSI Office of Research and Innovation and LEO Pharma has facilitated expansion of my research group attracting a talented international postdoctoral fellow and helped me develop unique collaborative links with world class innovative researchers.”

And although the study is still underway, several new collaborations for RCSI have already resulted as a direct result of work stemming from it such as with the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Victoria Australia and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. LEO plans for further collaboration with RCSI beyond this initial engagement with Khalid Aouidat, VP Global Thrombosis Strategy at LEO Pharma commenting that

“Following a successful study, we hope to be able to expand our collaboration with Dr. O’Sullivan in line with the strategic objectives of the RCSI seed fund on other co-funded schemes within this field of research.”

Publish date: 2019