Press Release

Minister Martin announces the availability of “Cancervaxin” a vaccine for melanoma cancer at the official opening of the Radiation Oncology Unit at Cork University Hospital

Mr Micheál Martin, T.D. Minister for Health and Children, today, (4 June 2004) announced the availability at Cork University Hospital of a cancer vaccine for melanoma cancer patients. Following seven years of development, “Cancervaxin” is now available under clinical trial for patients with stage 3 or stage 4 melanoma disease who satisfy the entry criteria for the trial. The first patient received her treatment last Monday at Cork University Hospital.

Funding for this clinical trial was made available through the Ireland-Northern Ireland-US National Cancer Institute Cancer Consortium established following the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1999. The goal of the Consortium is to foster better prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer in Ireland. Clinical trials are an essential part of developing better cancer prevention and therapeutic strategies and are acknowledged worldwide as the best way to advance patient care. Under this scheme, awards to the value of €3.5 million were made available through the Health Research Board to allow hospitals across the country to recruit and train staff, improve facilities and take part in world class clinical trials.

Speaking at the opening of the Radiation Oncology Unit at Cork University Hospital, the Minister welcomed this development and paid tribute to the work of the Cancer Consortium “This Consortium is enabling cancer patients in Ireland to benefit from the expertise of the world’s leading cancer research centre, the US National Cancer Institute. This initiative is a challenge to our cancer services and to our contribution to cancer service development. The availability of this vaccine is a concrete example of the resulting benefits to cancer patients.”

The Minister also acknowledged the dedicated work of Professor Paul Redmond, Regional Director of Cancer Services for the Southern Health Board and his colleagues in developing and supporting clinical trials under this initiative.