WEHI launches ACRF-funded cancer research project

Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Program for Resolving Cancer Complexity and Therapeutic Resistance has officially launched.

The world-class cancer research program addresses one of the main challenges of precision medicine – how to manage the complexity of cancer and each patients’ response to them and determine why some stop responding to cancer therapies.

The ambitious project has been made possible due to a $3.5 million grant awarded to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) by ACRF in 2019.

The ACRF Program for Resolving Cancer Complexity and Therapeutic Resistance has enabled WEHI to purchase cutting-edge technological infrastructure that is essential for studying individual cancers at a single-cell level.

This new technology allows researchers to focus on the discovery of triggers that drive cancer development, how genetic diversity in cancers affects treatment efficacy, and develop better ways of personalising cancer therapies to conquer the biggest challenges in cancer today – ultimately predicting and improving patients’ treatment response and overcoming drug resistance.

The equipment included a $2.2 million MIBIscope which is the fastest, highest resolution mass spectrometry-based imager ever made. It is the only machine that is capable of the analysis scale, sensitivity and large sample size proposed in this program.

Professor Andrew Roberts AM, Laboratory Head and Joint Leader, Cancer Research and Treatments Theme at WEHI, said the complexity and diversity of cancers at a single-cell level, and the cells that make up the tumour microenvironment, is poorly understood, and in many cases, it is difficult to predict how a patient will respond to therapy.

“This important investment from ACRF will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of how cancers develop at a single cell level, leading to breakthroughs in how we personalise cancer therapy that will have a real impact for patients in the future, improving treatment response and overcoming treatment resistance,” said Professor Roberts.

ACRF’s CEO, Kerry Strydom said, Australian Cancer Research Foundation backs brilliant cancer research and cutting-edge technology that drives innovation that ultimately – helps to save millions of lives

“Australia is constantly punching above its weight in the field of cancer research and the ACRF Program for Resolving Cancer Complexity and Therapeutic Resistance is proof of that. We hope to see this project produce findings that will support and improve the outcome of each individual diagnosed with this devasting disease.”

Learn more about the project by watching the event video below.