New era of personalised medicine

Chairman of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Tom Dery said findings from the recently opened $3.1 ACRF Drug Discovery Centre would lead to a new era of personalised medicine.

“Personalised medicine is the future of cancer therapy,” Mr Dery said.

“The days of the one-size-fits-all approach to medicine will soon be over, thanks to the work of researchers at facilities such as the ACRF Drug Discovery Centre.

“Targeted drug treatments can ensure fewer long term side effects and better results, and that’s the kind of outcome that motivates the people who so kindly donate to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation,” he said.New centre

The ACRF Drug Discovery Centre is a vital part of the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, which operates from the Lowy Cancer Research Centre on the campus of the University of NSW.

It houses new robotic technology that enables one year’s medical research to be completed in just days.

This drug screening technology is the only one of its kind in Australia devoted to childhood cancers.

Cancer kills on average, three Australian children a week.

The Centre’s technology allows thousands of small molecule drugs to be rapidly screened to identify which ones have the potential to be developed into safer, more effective therapies that hit only on aggressive cancer cells, while sparing normal healthy tissue.

Very young children treated with current treatment protocols have a high risk of long term side effects including learning disorders and hearing impairment and potentially future cancers.

Fast tracking

“The ACRF Drug Discovery Centre offers a huge advance in fast tracking critical research to find a cure for kids’ cancer,” said the director of the Drug Discovery Centre, Murray Norris.

“It took CCIA five years to manually search through thousands of potential drug candidates to find one of CCIA’s most promising drugs in development for childhood cancer. With this drug screening robot we could potentially discover effective drug candidates within days,” Professor Norris said.

“Our work involves identifying genes that are abnormally switched on in a child’s tumour and then finding a potential drug that can switch off or change the behaviour of that gene.

“For example, we have identified a gene that is switched on in children’s cancers that responds badly or is resistant to chemotherapy. Once this gene is switched off those whose cancers have been resistant to traditional cancer therapies can now respond better to treatment.

“This new screening technology can save years of research and boosts better outcomes for children with cancer,” he said.

Vital support

Executive director of the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia Michelle Haber said, “CCIA is committed to translating drug discoveries at the bench into real outcomes for children at the bedside, improving the quality of care as well as access to new technology.

“These things would not be possible without the support of organisations such as the Australian Cancer Research Foundation,” Professor Haber said.

Click Here for ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer Media Release.