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Dr. Roisin Dwyer

+353 91 544637
Image showing In Vivo Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) engraftment in breast tumor tissue following intravenous injection. DAPI stained nuclei appear blue, with engrafted MSCs appearing red. The ability of these cells to home specifically to the site of tumors

Roisin investigates the potential of human MSCs as vectors for therapeutic gene delivery to breast tumor tissue

Researcher in

Research Project Area: 

 Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Breast Cancer 

Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) have the proven ability to specifically home to the site of tumours and their metastases, and also appear to bypass the host immune system. As a result of these remarkable traits, research is ongoing to determine the potential of these cells for tumour-targeted delivery of therapeutic genes. Further understanding the biology of MSCs and their interactions with breast cancer cells will be fundamental to determining whether these cells can be safely harnessed for tumour-targeted delivery of therapeutic agents. There are two central aims of the Breast Cancer- MSC program:
1. To investigate the potential of MSCs for tumour targeted delivery of therapeutic genes in the setting of metastatic breast cancer
2. To understand the prevalence, role and fate of native MSCs in the primary breast tumour microenvironment


Tumour Microenvironment in Breast Cancer

It is well established that within the breast tumour microenvironment, neoplastic epithelial cells coexist with stromal fibroblasts. Stromal cells are not simply innocent bystanders at breast cancer sites and studies have shown that they possess a striking tumour promoting property as distinct from normal stromal cells. This is mediated partly through secretion of signalling factors, such as chemokines, that direct malignant epithelial cell function. The precise functional contributions of stromal cells or these signalling factors to carcinoma growth and progression remain poorly understood. Current studies in the laboratory aim to elucidate mechanisms of action of stromal cells within the primary tumour microenvironment, identifying factors secreted and their impact on epithelial cell gene expression and function.

Positions Held: 

Lecturer in Translational Science and Principal Investigator, Discipline of Surgery, NUI Galway

Research Fellow
Department of Surgery and REMEDI, NUI, Galway
Investigation of the potential of human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (hMSC) as vectors for therapeutic gene delivery to breast tumor tissue

Post-doctoral Researcher
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
Adenovirus–mediated transcriptional targeting of Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) expression to cancer using tumor specific promoters for radioiodide imaging and therapy.

Dept of Medicine and Therapeutics, University College Dublin
Investigation of Iodide Uptake and Metabolism in Breast Cancer


Awards & Honours: 

Nov 2005
NUI Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Sciences

Nov 2007
HRB Research Project Grant

April 2008
CRI Research Project Grant

Mar 2012
Received Inaugural Irish Cancer Society Researcher of the Year Award

Selected Publications: 

Waters PS, McDermott AM, Wall D, Heneghan HM, Miller N, Newell J, Kerin MJ and Dwyer RM. Relationship between circulating and tissue microRNAs in a murine model of breast cancer. PloS One 2012;7(11):e50459 Epub Nov 30 PMID: 23226290.

Dwyer RM, Ryan J, Havelin RJ, Morris JC, Miller BW, Liu Z, Flavin R, O'Flatharta C, Foley MJ, Barrett HH, Murphy JM, Barry FP, O'Brien T, Kerin MJ.  Mesenchymal Stem Cell (Msc) Mediated Delivery of the Sodium Iodide Symporter (Nis) Supports Radionuclide Imaging and Treatment of Breast Cancer.  Stem Cells. 2011 May 23. doi: 10.1002/stem.665. [Epub ahead of print]  PMID: 21608083

Ryan J, Curran CE, Hennessy E, Newell J, Morris JC, Kerin MJ, Dwyer RM  The Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) and Potential Regulators in Normal, Benign and Malignant Human Breast Tissue
PLoS One 2011 6(1): e16023. Jan 19 [Epub]

Dwyer RM, Kerin MJ.  Mesenchymal stem cells and cancer: tumor-specific delivery vehicles or therapeutic targets?
Hum Gene Ther. 2010 Nov;21(11):1506-12.

Martin FT, Dwyer RM, Kelly J, Khan S, Murphy JM, Curran C, Miller N, Hennessy E, Dockery P, Barry FP, O'Brien T, Kerin MJ Potential role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the breast tumour microenvironment: stimulation of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT)
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Nov;124(2):317-26

Lowery AJ, Miller N, Dwyer RM, Kerin MJ.
Dysregulated miR-183 inhibits migration in breast cancer cells.
BMC Cancer. 2010 Sep 21;10:502.

Dwyer RM, Khan S, Barry FP, O'Brien T, Kerin MJ.
Advances in mesenchymal stem cell-mediated gene therapy for cancer.
Stem Cell Res Ther. 2010 Aug 9;1(3):25.

Molloy AP, Martin FP, Dwyer RM, Griffin TP, Murphy JM, Barry FP, O’Brien T and Kerin MJ
Mesenchymal stem cell secretion of chemokines during differentiation into osteoblasts, and their potential role in mediating interactions with breast cancer cells
Int J Cancer. 2009 Jan 15;124(2):326-32.

Potter SM, Dwyer RM, Curran CE, Hennessy E, Harrington KA, Griffin DG and Kerin MJ. Systemic Chemokine Levels in Breast Cancer Patients and Their Relationship with Circulating Menstrual Hormones. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (2008) [Epub ahead of print]

Dwyer RM, Potter-Beirne SM, Harrington KA, Lowery AJ, Hennessy E, Murphy JM, Barry FP, O’Brien T and Kerin MJ. Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 (MCP-1) secreted by primary breast tumors stimulates migration of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). Clinical Cancer Research (2007) 13 (17): 5020-5027

Dwyer RM, Bergert ER, Gendler SJ, O’Connor MK and Morris JC. Adenovirus-mediated and targeted expression of the sodium-iodide symporter permits in vivo radioiodide imaging and therapy of pancreatic tumors. Human Gene Therapy (2006) 17(6): 661-668.

Dwyer RM, Bergert ER, Gendler SJ, O’Connor MK and Morris JC. Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS)-mediated Radioiodide Imaging and Therapy of Ovarian Tumor Xenografts in Mice. Gene Therapy (2006) 13(1): 60-66.

Dwyer RM, Bergert ER, Myers RM, Harvey ME, Classic KL, Marler RJ, O’Connor MK and Morris JC. A Preclinical Large Animal Model of Adenovirus-Mediated Expression of the Sodium-Iodide Symporter for Radioiodide Imaging and Therapy of Locally Recurrent Prostate Cancer. Molecular Therapy (2005) 12(5): 835-841.

Dwyer RM, Bergert ER, Gendler SJ, O’Connor MK and Morris JC. In Vivo Radioiodide Imaging and Treatment of Breast Cancer Xenografts Following MUC1-driven Expression of the Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS). Clinical Cancer Research (2005) 11(4): 1483-1489.

Smyth PPA and Dwyer RM. The Sodium Iodide Symporter and Thyroid Disease. Clinical Endocrinology (2002) 56(4):427-9.

Kilbane MT, Ajjan RA, Weetman AP, Dwyer R, McDermott EWM, O'Higgins N J and Smyth PPA. Tissue Iodine Content and Serum Mediated 125I Uptake Blocking Activity in Breast Cancer. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2000) 85: 1245-1250.

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