A Magherafelt-born doctor is helping to develop a pioneering new drug which could extend the lives of thousands of brain cancer patients.
Jimmy Stuart and his colleagues from Bury-based Innovate Pharmaceuticals developed the drug which has been described as a “game changer”.
Dr Stuart, a son of Charlie and Nan Stuart from Hazeldine Avenue in Magherafelt, is currently divisional medical director at Pennine Acute NHS Trust.
The 54-year-old father of four worked in the Mid Ulster Hospital, Magherafelt and The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, before moving to Manchester over 20 years ago.
But he has not lost touch with the south Derry town, returning home each month to catch up with family and friends.
Shortly after arriving to work in Manchester Royal Infirmary’s A&E he found himself dealing with the aftermath of the massive truck bomb which the IRA detonated in the city cent.
Although no one was killed in the 1996 attack, 212 people were injured and Jimmy oversaw their medical care until they arrived at hospital.
Working with brothers Simon and Jan Cohen in recent years, Jimmy has helped to develop a new liquid drug containing aspirin, which experts say can cross the blood-brain barrier - something that has so far stopped cancer drugs from working effectively against brain tumours.
Medical experts believe it could be a ‘magic bullet’ transporting chemotherapy drugs, which are delivered into the blood stream, directly to the tumour for the first time.
Less than 20 per cent of brain cancer patients survive more than five years, compared to 87 per cent for breast cancer and 98 per cent for testicular cancer. The standard treatment involves surgery to remove the tumour, followed by radiotherapy and then chemotherapy.
But chemotherapy is rarely effective because the drug’s molecules are too big to cross the blood-brain barrier - a membrane which divides blood cells from cerebral fluid. The three-man team combined reformulated aspirin with two additional ingredients into a soluble form.
His proud parents said Jimmy always wanted to be a doctor since he was a young boy.
“We never thought he would go on to do so well and bring hope to thousands of cancer sufferers,” said Nan.