‘Medicinal mushrooms’ among 36 projects to win €13.5m funding

Miniser for Health Leo Varadkar announces winners of funding from Health Research Board

Minister for  Health  Leo Varadkar announcing  funding of  €13.5 million  for research into cancer, antobiotics and other vital treatments, at the HRB Health Research Awards which took place at the Royal College of Physicians.  Photograph:  Colm Mahady/Fennells

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar announcing funding of €13.5 million for research into cancer, antobiotics and other vital treatments, at the HRB Health Research Awards which took place at the Royal College of Physicians. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

 

The use of “medicinal mushrooms” to combat pneumonia and a device to improve inhaler use among asthma sufferers are among the 36 projects that have won €13.5 million in funding support from the Health Research Board. The winning projects were selected from a longlist of 190 projects and announced by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar yesterday.

Mr Varadkar said the projects covered a huge range of areas, including research into osteoporosis in older HIV patients, developing diet and exercise plans following cancer surgery and new treatments for resistant types of breast cancer.

“This investment highlights the Government’s commitment to developing new research in areas with a clear health benefit, as well as developing new approaches to healthcare and boosting the medical science sector.

“Every treatment, every medical device and every procedure in our health service starts with a good idea that has been proved in practice.”

Research is to start immediately. Thirty-two teams received awards of up to €330,000 and must be completed over three years, while four will receive up to €800,000 over five years.

A team from Athlone Institute of Technology and NUI Galway hope to use a novel combination of adult stem cells and medicinal fungi to help a person’s immune system fight pneumonia infections.

Pneumonia accounts for 5 per cent of deaths and is the most common cause of acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome, for which there remains no specific therapy.

Dr Patrick Mallon of UCD is leading a team that aims to limit bone loss in HIV patients on anti-retroviral drugs. Because of the success of these drugs, people with HIV have near normal life expectancies but heart disease and osteoporosis are becoming bigger issues.

Prof Richard Costello of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is the principal investigator behind a project examining issues around the failure of 10 per cent of asthma sufferers to control their symptoms using inhalers. The project involves attaching a small device to the inhaler, which identifies when and how it is used. Prof Costello says many patients di not take their inhalers regularly enough or with the correct technique and become disillusioned as a result.

Graham Love, chief executive of the board, said it looked at the longer-term impact of each project, such as devices, new diagnostics and patents.