Targeted Therapies for Cancer

The Targeted Therapies for Cancer research is focused on two key areas:

i) preclinical evaluation of novel targeted therapies in specific cancer subtypes and
ii) investigation of mechanisms of response/resistance to targeted therapies in cell line models.

Our current research includes projects on HER2 positive breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer and melanoma. We are investigating mechanisms of response/resistance to HER-2 targeted therapies and testing novel therapeutic strategies to overcome resistance in HER2 positive breast cancer, including targeting PP2A.

As there are currently no targeted therapies with proven efficacy for triple negative breast cancer, we are examining several potential targets, including EGFR, c-Met, IGF1R, insulin receptor and Src kinase.

There is an urgent need to develop new therapeutic strategies to improve prognosis for patients with metastatic melanoma. We are evaluating the benefits of Src kinase and CDK inhibitors in melanoma and studying potential biomarkers of response.

New therapeutic strategies identified in our laboratory studies are translated into clinical trials in patients, in collaboration with the All-Ireland Cooperative Oncology Research Group (ICORG). Samples are collected from patients enrolled on clinical trials to study potential biomarkers of response and resistance, in collaboration with Prof Susan Kennedy and Dr Cecily Kelleher, Consultant Pathologist, St Vincent's University Hospital.

This research programme is supported by the SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster, Molecular Therapeutics for Cancer Ireland, The Caroline Foundation, The Cancer Clinical Research Trust, the Irish Cancer Society BREAST PREDICT Collaborative Cancer Research Centre and Breast Cancer Now.


Dr Norma O'Donovan (

Meet our Cancer Research Group


  • Mahgoub T, Eustace AJ, Collins DM, Walsh N, O'Donovan N, Crown J. Kinase inhibitor screening identifies CDK4 as a potential therapeutic target for melanoma. Int J Oncol. 2015 Jul 21. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.3097. PubMed PMID: 26201960.
  • Eustace AJ, Kennedy S, Larkin AM, Mahgoub T, Tryfonopoulos D, O'Driscoll L, Clynes M, Crown J, O'Donovan N. Predictive biomarkers for dasatinib treatment in Oncoscience. 2014 Mar 12;1(2):158-66. PubMed PMID: 25594008.
  • McDermott M, O'Donovan N. Analysis of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) phosphorylation by immunoblotting. Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1233:3-14. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1789-1_1. PubMed PMID: 25319884.
  • Gaule PB, Crown J, O'Donovan N, Duffy MJ. cMET in triple-negative breast cancer: is it a therapeutic target for this subset of breast cancer patients? Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2014 Sep;18(9):999-1009. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2014.938050. PubMed PMID: 25084805.
  • McDermott MS, Browne BC, Conlon NT, O'Brien NA, Slamon DJ, Henry M, Meleady P, Clynes M, Dowling P, Crown J, O'Donovan N. PP2A inhibition overcomes acquired resistance to HER2 targeted therapy. Mol Cancer. 2014 Jun 24;13:157. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-13-157. PubMed PMID: 24958351.

Follow this link for a full list of publications.


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