World-class cancer research centre announced for QIMR Berghofer

QIMR Berghofer scientists hope to revolutionise personalised cancer treatment with a $2-million grant from Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) to establish a world-class national cancer research centre in Brisbane.

Led by Professor Steven Lane and Dr Nicola Waddell, on behalf of a team of academic and clinical investigators, the ACRF Centre for Optimised Cancer Therapy (ACRF-COCT) will integrate the latest advances in genomics and technology to understand how cancerous tumours respond to treatment.

Professor Lane said the ACRF-COCT will be jointly managed by researchers and clinicians from QIMR Berghofer, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Princess Alexandra Hospital, to deliver a bench to bedside approach of treating people with cancer.

“We will use novel research tools to work out how different treatments can be combined and delivered in real time, to improve patient outcomes,” he explained.

Dr Waddell said the centre will use an entirely new approach to cancer precision medicine, focused on the dynamic changes that happen during the treatment of cancer.

“By using genomic single cell and spatial technologies, together with big data sets, we hope we can offer alternative treatments, in real time.

“We will examine patient samples, at the time of surgery, during treatment, and at the completion of treatment to provide a comprehensive view of how different cancers respond to standard chemotherapy; immunotherapy; targeted therapies; and cellular therapies,” explained Dr Waddell.

Professor Lane says what makes the centre unique is its access to extensive samples from patients who are undergoing treatment.

“Vital information about cancer tumour responses will be available, allowing us to inform and validate individualised therapeutic approaches in a clinical setting, ultimately leading to improved treatment options for patients,” said Professor Lane.

The ACRF funding has provided researchers with cutting-edge equipment to develop the technology for future clinical tests.

ACRF CEO Kerry Strydom said QIMR Berghofer’s pioneering project has great potential to provide significant health and social returns. “We look forward to seeing the ACRF-COCT achieve breakthroughs that will help to save countless lives and improve outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer. We are proud to support them in this endeavour,” she said.

ACRF has been backing QIMR Berghofer since 2007, providing over $9 million in funding to enable cutting edge research programs.