Funding pioneering cancer projects

Cancer research is a long and expensive process. Funding can be difficult to obtain in Australia, with many brilliant researchers and scientists competing for government grants. 

CAN4CANCER 2018 funded pioneering pancreatic, brain, breast and prostate cancer projects that will hopefully lead to important discoveries and positive outcomes for cancer patients and the wider Australian community.


Pancreatic cancer project: Targeting the Facilitator

Researcher: Zhihong Xu
Institute: Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research

Pancreatic Cancer is one of the deadliest and most difficult forms of cancer to treat - current survival rates are in the order of 6% and is expected to be the second leading cause of death by cancer by 2020. One of the reason for the poor survival rates is due to the prolific metastasising (spreading) of cancer cells that occurs from the pancreas to other parts of the body. This project will build on some exciting work already completed which has identified the role of non-malignant stromal cells in somehow contributing or facilitating this spreading of cells. The project will capture, investigate and target circulating stromal cells and cancer cells with a view to deriving new forms of treatment for this deadly disease.
Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research (IIAMR) is a world-class medical research facility rooted in Liverpool NSW, south west of Sydney. The mission of IIAMR is building the medical research centre of excellence that produces insights and discoveries for application to health and translates medical research findings into clinical practice. Cancer research is an important strategic priority of IIAMR. A number of cancer research groups are based at Ingham, including Pancreatic Research Group (Focusing on pancreatic cancer), Medical Oncology (Studying prostate, breast, colon and brain cancer), Circulating Tumour Cells research (Aiming to detect and stop cancer metastasis) and other groups conducting clinical investigations. The ultimate goal of all cancer researchers is to improve the clinical outcome of cancer patients.


Brain cancer (DIPG) in Children: Radical Treatment Response.

Researcher: Dr Kelly Avery-Kiejda
Institute: Newcastle University
Sadly, children diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) have no treatment options open to them and die of the disease. This was the case with leukaemia 50 years ago and today that disease is very treatable. In this much needed project a fresh new radical approach is being mounted which will test multiple series of drugs in combination and on an intense basis with a view to unpicking those combinations which will have an impact on this deadly form of brain cancer.


Brain Cancer (Glioblastoma) in Children: Repurposing Drugs to Starve the Cancer Cells

Researcher: Annemarie Nadort
Institute: Macquarie University
This exciting projects is also focussed on solving the treatment of glioblastoma. In this instance they are using previous work which indicated thats two specific drugs that are used for diabetes treatment and anti-scarring treatment can have a material impact on the amount of energy obtained by the cancer cells in the brain. Application of these drugs will either starve the cancer cells or paralyse them. Successful outcomes will lead to a new treatment regime to be used with children in the chemotherapy portion of their treatment plan.


Breast Cancer: Harnessing the Immune System

Researcher: Professor Sherene Loi
Institute: Breast Cancer Trials Australia
Despite advances made in targeted treatments such as Herceptin for HER2-
positive breast cancer, which are today saving thousands of lives, the majority of
women and men whose breast cancer has spread beyond the breast develop
resistance to these treatments and die from their disease. This project involves a clinical trial entitled The DIAmOND trial which will investigate whether harnessing the body’s own immune system can help fight the cancer. In the trial two specific antibodies will be added to Herceptin as treatment for metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. The aim of this trial is to demonstrate that this combination will stop or slow down the growth of cancer, prolong lives as well as result in excellent quality of life.

Despite advances made in targeted treatments such as Herceptin for HER2- positive breast cancer, which are today saving thousands of lives, the majority of women and men whose breast cancer has spread beyond the breast develop resistance to these treatments and die from their disease. The DIAmOND trial will investigate whether harnessing the body’s own immune system can help fight the cancer. In the trial two monoclonal antibodies will be added to Herceptin as treatment for metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. It’s hoped this combination will stop or slow down the growth of cancer, prolong lives as well as result in excellent quality of life.