$10M in funding announced for cutting-edge cancer research

Groundbreaking research – proton beam therapy for brain cancer, immunotherapy for children’s cancers, personalised treatment advances

Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has today awarded $10 million in funding to initiate four of the nation’s most promising cancer research projects.

Each proposes a novel approach to help transform the way cancer is detected or treated, tackling the disease predicted to be diagnosed for 165,000 Australians this year.

Following a myriad of applications and a rigorous evaluation process over several months, the grant recipients were recommended by ACRF’s esteemed Medical Research Advisory Committee.

The awards, formally announced today by ACRF patrons, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley are as follows:

SAHMRI, SA: ACRF Adelaide Brain Cancer Therapy and Imaging Consortium

$4 million will allow researchers to explore the potential of proton beam therapy in the hope of improving outcomes for brain cancer patients

Brain cancer treatments can be extremely damaging, resulting in drastic long-term cognitive and motor side effects. This project will explore the potential of proton beam therapy, which unlike other forms of radiation is delivered to cancerous tissue with little harm to the surrounding normal brain tissue.

Harnessing the latest technological advances of Australia’s first proton therapy unit, based in Adelaide, this new pre-clinical consortium will for the first time in Australia leverage proton radiotherapy for research purposes, taking a unique ‘bench to bedside’ approach to design and test novel brain cancer treatments and reduce the long-term drastic side-effects of the current treatments.

Children’s Cancer Institute, NSW: ACRF Spatial Immune-oncology Research program

$2 million for research aimed at unlocking the potential of immunotherapies for childhood cancer.

Immunotherapy is the most appealing cancer treatment of the modern era, where the body’s immune system is activated to find and destroy cancer cells.

Remarkable results have been seen in adult cancer patients, but unfortunately the same level of success has not yet translated to childhood cancers.

The ACRF Spatial Immune-oncology Research program will utilise the latest technologies to cast light on the complex interactions between cancer and immune cells, leading to the discovery, development and deployment of new and effective immune-based therapies for children with cancer.

Macquarie University, NSW: ACRF Centre for Advanced Cancer Modelling

$2 million for research to develop tailored patient treatment approaches in real-time.

Marking the first grant to Macquarie University by ACRF, this project aims to transform the selection of the best available personalized treatment for a patient.

Building on local and international partnerships to bring together clinical, research and bioengineering expertise, the use of dynamic disease models will elevate the way patients are managed and inform tailored treatment decisions in real-time.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland: The ACRF Centre for Optimised Cancer Therapy

$2 million for researchers to apply deep learning techniques on decades of research to inform individualised treatment options.

Building on decades of transformative cancer research findings, the ACRF Centre for Optimised Cancer will enable the QIMR Berghofer team to optimise and improve treatments based on individual responses – aiming to give patients the best chance of a cure from their cancer.

ACRF CEO Kerry Strydom said: “Our mandate is to back only the most brilliant and promising research, something that is reflected in our grant recipients for 2023.

“ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee, made up of outstanding senior medical research professionals with a detailed understanding of the global cancer research landscape, have scrutinised and competitively evaluated a bevy of strong applications this year.

“Ultimately, the four awardees were deemed to have the greatest potential of providing significant health and social returns. We look forward to seeing the recipients use the funding to achieve breakthroughs that will no doubt save countless lives and improve outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer.”