Melbourne-based cancer research continues to soar thanks to funding boost from Australian Cancer Research Foundation

Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) is pleased to announce the official opening of two state-of-the-art cancer research facilities in Victoria. The launch of the new facilities was made possible by $3.8 million in grant funding from ACRF.

Both programs will provide a novel approach to help transform the way cancer is detected or treated, tackling the disease for the 165,000 Australians predicted to be diagnosed this year alone.

$1.8 million was awarded to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to establish the ACRF Radiation Immuno-oncology Program. Exploring opportunities to utilise radiation-based treatments to harness the potential of a patient’s immune system.

This innovative Victoria-based research program will study radiation therapy (a fundamental pillar in cancer treatment) and how it triggers ‘host anti-cancer immune defences’, similar to a vaccine. Understanding the relationship between radiation and the immune system will aid in the development of powerful new treatment regimens that optimise the use of radiation therapy alongside immunotherapy.

Professor Scott Williams of Peter Mac’s Department of Radiation Oncology, says: “The technology for delivering radiation therapy has grown rapidly over recent decades along with our core understanding of cancer biology, and in particular, immunology.” “ACRF’s support has enabled us to purchase cutting-edge technology to study the complex interactions that exist between radiation therapy and the immune system. We hope this will lead to the development of new radiation-based combination treatments which effectively harness the patient’s immune system to help them fight cancer”.

$2 million was awarded to the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne to establish a world-class research facility. Drug discovery for cancers with no approved therapies or where existing therapies are associated with bad side-effects.

ACRF is proud to have funded a world-class research facility which will assist medical researchers in the discovery of new cancer drugs. Using state-of-the-art equipment, the program explores the use of ‘structural biology approaches’ to assist with the discovery of new medicines and treatments. The Facility will enhance the early-stage translation of basic cancer discoveries made by Australian researchers into new cancer treatments.

Structural biology is revolutionising cancer drug discovery and advancing patient outcomes. It has been instrumental in developing highly effective medicines to treat a range of cancer types. The development of successful targeted molecular medicines includes Imatinib (Gleevec) to treat myeloid leukaemia, Venetoclax for leukaemia, and Gefitinib for lung cancer.

Professor Michael Parker, Director of Bio21 Institute at Uni of Melbourne, said “The ACRF funding has made it possible to create a facility that houses some of the most cutting-edge structural biology instruments and technologies to cater for the cancer research community in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and beyond.”

“It also provides our partners with powerful tools to develop and deliver new cancer drugs to patients.” Professor Parker said.