Million dollar 'movies' of cancer cells now showing

Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s $1 million boost for Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

A brand new cancer research facility, made possible with a $1million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF), officially opened today, revealing new technology that will enable researchers to watch real-time digital ‘movies’ of cancer cells.

The ACRF Microscopy Facility at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne – the largest cancer research group in the country – was officially opened by Lady Southey, AM, Lieutenant Governor of Victoria.

The new facility gives researchers the ability to move closer to harnessing the power of people’s immune systems and understanding how to guard against cancer development. The technology for the facility includes a new transmission electron microscope, a confocal imaging system for live cells, and a digital imaging workstation with an immensely improved cell analysis capability.

“This is the kind of major advance in cancer research that the Australian Cancer Research Foundation is committed to funding,” said ACRF Chairman, Mr Tom Dery. “We are optimistic that our generation will be the last to be devastated by cancer and Peter Mac is at the forefront of the latest global advances in treatment and prevention.

“The last few years have seen great strides forward in the development of targeted therapies and improved quality of life for cancer patients. The ACRF is fulfilling a critical role by granting large, intercessional grants, difficult to obtain from other funding organisations,” Mr Dery explained.

Unlike other Australian organisations funding research, the ACRF focuses on funding infrastructure, in a move to be a driving force behind the latest scientific breakthroughs.

Chair of Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s Board of Directors, Dr Heather Wellington said: “Advanced microscopic techniques and hardware are absolutely pivotal to the research program at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, not only in our basic research but also in our clinic.

“The ACRF Facility’s aim is to provide an additional capability in monitoring cancer-causing genes. Its establishment provides a capacity within Victoria to perform internationally competitive research as well as attract the best researchers to the work being carried out at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre,” said Dr Wellington.

Professor Joe Trapani, Head of the Cancer Immunology Program at Peter Mac said that “our research focus at Peter Mac has been on the behaviour of cancer-causing genes, activating and arming the immune system to protect against and eliminate cancer cells. We expect also to see development of our knowledge of how stem cells function and whether they can be exploited therapeutically,” he said.

Individual ACRF grants exceed $1million – a sum not available from other private sources in Australia. These grants continue to make significant contributions to far-reaching breakthroughs in the fight against cancer.

Now in its 21st year, ACRF last month announced the biggest ever private research grant – $5million – with the winning submission to be announced early next year.

The organisation has so far raised more than $50 million to support innovation and excellence in Australian research initiatives.

In just the last two years alone, the foundation has awarded grants totalling $6.3 million, with recipients including Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research and Murdoch Children’s (Cancer) Research Institute.

For more information on the $1million ACRF grant to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre click here.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Researcher Bios

Professor Joe Trapani – Head, Cancer Immunology Program

Sarah Ellis – Manager, Microscopy Imaging and Research Core Facility