The new ACRF Drug Discovery Laboratory was officially opened at a ceremony on Wednesday 27 April. Representatives of ACRF including Board Chairman Tom Dery and Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) toured the lab formally following official proceedings.
The laboratory is now fully operational at CCIA for Medical Research in Randwick.
An announcement that a chemistry lab would be established at 64 High Street under the direction of highly accomplished cancer researcher Prof Philip Hogg was made in late 2003.
The establishment of the lab and the drug discovery program was made possible by a $500,000 grant from the ACRF.
Prof Hogg’s team of researchers has been working on an exciting new therapy that has the potential to stop cancer in its tracks. He has developed a drug that stops tumours from growing by cutting off their blood supply. This new class of drug, known as a blood vessel inhibitor, is being hailed as a significant advance in the fight against cancer.
Professor Hogg’s work is based on the body’s ability to create new blood vessels. Because tumours need a reliable blood supply of oxygen and nutrients to grow, they signal blood vessels nearby to sprout and elongate towards them–setting up their own blood supply. Once it has commandeered blood vessels, tumour growth can become unstoppable and malignant.
Prof Hogg and his team have produced a therapeutic agent that targets the cells that line the walls of blood vessels. These cells play a key role in inducing and regulating blood vessel formation.
The agent works by entering a part of the cell that contains its energy source and makes it inactive. Without it, cells die preventing further blood vessel formation.
Investigations in laboratory models have confirmed the agent will inhibit tumour growth.
“Although the treatment will not kill cancer on its own, when combined with other experimental therapies it offers tremendous potential to improve cure rates,” said Prof Hogg.
Because the drug targets only specific cells, it will not harm other cells in the body. Other cancer therapies often have unwarranted, harmful side effects. The target cells also lack the ability to become drug resistant.
Prof Hogg and his researchers are refining the agent into an effective anti-cancer drug in preparation for clinical trials early next year.
“Anti-angiogenic therapies are entering the mainstream of cancer treatment. The Institute’s compound is one of a number being investigated in trials worldwide with the potential to effectively treat solid tumours in children and adults,” said Prof Michelle Haber, Executive Director of CCIA.
“With projects like this, we have an opportunity to offer hope to the families of children with cancer.”