Dr. Fiona Lyng - Enterprise Ireland’s ‘One to Watch’ Award 2011

New Diagnosis System for Cervical Cancer about to be licensed to new Irish start-up company

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21st June 2011

The Minister for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock T.D. today named Dr Fiona Lyng of Dublin Institute of Technology as this year’s winner of the Enterprise Ireland ‘One to Watch’ award.

Working with colleagues in the Focas Institute in DIT and with collaborators at the Coombe Hospital, Dr. Lyng is developing a new system to diagnose cervical cancer, with support from Enterprise Ireland.

Minister Sherlock presented the award to Dr. Lyng at the Enterprise Ireland Applied Research Forum in front of 250 academic researchers gathered to look at ways to increase the amount of commercially valuable research that is transferred from third level institutions into Irish industry.

Presenting the award, Minister Sherlock said:
“The Government’s ambition to convert knowledge and research into jobs relies on the conversion of publicly-funded research into commercial technologies and spin-out companies.  Enterprise Ireland’s ‘One to Watch’ award recognises the commercial potential of Government-supported projects, through Enterprise Ireland, that have the capacity to make a major social or economic impact once brought to the market-place.

“Dr. Lyng’s system has the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis of cervical cancer.  With the support of Enterprise Ireland and DIT Hothouse, plans are in place to commercialise this important technology through a spin-out company.  The work is an excellent example of the positive social and economic impact of research outputs.”

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Dr. Fiona Lyng, winner of Enterprise Ireland’s “One to Watch” award, with Dr. Keith O’Neill and Dr. Noel Daly from Enterprise Ireland, and Mr. Tom Flanagan and Dr. Sinéad McCluskey from DIT Hothouse.

Accepting the award, Dr. Lyng, who is currently Centre Manager of the Radiation and Environmental Science Centre, DIT said:
“I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the team at DIT who are developing this new system to diagnose cervical cancer and our colleagues at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital. With the support of Enterprise Ireland, DIT Hothouse and our business partner Paul Hands I look forward to making this system available to help the diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer worldwide.

Enterprise Ireland has funded the development of this technology for five years.  Enterprise Ireland is now working closely with DIT and the team who, together with business partner Paul Hands, are planning to establish a spin-out company, Raman Diagnostics, to commercialise the technology.  63 such spin-out companies have emerged from Irish third level colleges in the past three years with Enterprise Ireland support.

Fiona Lyng’s team at the Focas Institute in DIT is developing an analyser based on Raman spectroscopy and an algorithm developed by DIT to detect cervical pre-cancer in Pap smears. This is currently done by skilled cytologists. This analyser will give higher specificity and sensitivity values than the currently used histopathological/cytological methods. The intention is to ultimately develop a fully automated cervical cancer screening system.   The commercial potential of the DIT technology is significant.  The cervical cancer screening market is currently worth over $6 billion.

Further information

´╗┐Description of the project

DIT Hothouse is the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at Dublin Institute of Technology.  The centre is responsible for the commercialisation of research and the transfer of technology from DIT to industry, winning several high profile technology transfer licences with companies such as SONY, Microsoft, Bausch & Lomb and General Paints, and currently has over 50 technologies available for licence in ICT, Industrial Technology, LifeSciences and Clean Technology.  The DIT Hothouse Venture Programme for knowledge-intensive start-up companies has assisted over new 300 firms that have created 1,000 jobs in the Dublin region. For further information visit www.dit.ie/hothouse

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