A $2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF), announced today, will fund a state-of-the-art imaging centre to understand how and why tumours corrupt the normal cells of their immediate environment.
The grant enables the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) and Latrobe Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS) to extend its ground-breaking work on the interaction between individual tumour cells and normal cells, and accelerate the speed with which results in the laboratory can be translated into treatments for cancer patients.
‘Cellular interactions are crucial for tumours – they drive the growth of tumours and their spread to metastatic sites; these interactions are also often responsible for tumours becoming resistant to targeted therapy,’ Professor Matthias Ernst, Scientific Director of ONJCRI, said. ‘This new centre will literally shine a light on what happens in the micro-environment around a tumour, giving us the information we need to develop effective, targeted anti-cancer therapies.’
‘We know that tumour cells coerce and corrupt their environment to their advantage. If we understand the interactions and mechanisms they use to do this, we will better understand how to counter them.’
Professor Ernst, who is also the Head of the School of Cancer Medicine at La Trobe University, welcomed the generous support of the ACRF.
‘Australia is blessed with world-class cancer research and is playing a lead in the development of anti-tumour treatment, including those that harness the power of the body’s own immune system. We all recognise that our research achievements have to stay abreast of the rising rates of cancer, and the new ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment will facilitate that.’
‘The ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Microenvironment will offer cutting edge capabilities for researchers both at the ONJCRI and at LIMS who are studying the interactions between cancer cells. The collaborative opportunities that will arise from the centre will also greatly benefit advances in cancer research,’ said Professor Andrew Hill, Head of La Trobe University’s Institute for Molecular Sciences.
‘The ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment will provide new insights into how the micro-environment impacts tumour growth, leading to new targeted and immune based cancer treatments that will benefit all Australian cancer patients,’ ACRF Chief Executive, Professor Ian Brown, said.
‘Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters from around Australia we are able to award high-impact grants, allowing Australia’s best scientists to embark on ground-breaking research projects. These cancer research initiatives cover all types of cancer and speed up discoveries, ultimately working to save lives by saving time,’ says Professor Brown.
Each year ACRF challenges the Australian cancer research community to propose projects that are bold and have the potential to make a significant impact on cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
In 2017, thirteen projects were submitted from across the country and evaluated by ACRF’s esteemed Medical Research Advisory Committee. The Committee recommended four grants to the ACRF Board for projects that have the greatest potential to change treatment outcomes for all Australian cancer patients.