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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.

Revolutionary advances in microscopy provide an opportunity to break a roadblock in cancer research

Dr-Rashmi-Priya-CREDIT-UQ's-Institute-for-Molecular-Bioscience - Copy for webA $2.3M grant from Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) is being awarded to The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) today to establish the new ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility (CUFF).

The nation-leading facility will provide cutting-edge imaging capabilities for tracking and visualising cancer. Researchers will be able to see cancer cells grow, spread and respond to drugs in real time. This will help them learn how cancer cells behave and change, and ultimately, develop new treatments to control cancer.

“The need for this facility came from a realisation that we are at a crucial juncture in global cancer research. Despite outstanding developments in understanding the genetic changes in cancer, we still do not understand how these changes cause cancers to grow and spread,” says Professor Brandon Wainwright, Director, IMB.

The researchers at IMB are hopeful that the revolutionary new advances in microscopy will provide the opportunity to break this roadblock.

“Donations received by ACRF help to provide researchers with the most powerful tools available. The three new microscopes at IMB will allow researchers to observe the structure and function of living cancer cells in real time with unprecedented resolution, giving them the opportunity to optimally target and fine-tune cancer treatments. It is our hope that they will assist IMB in making significant contributions to the global understanding of how cancers grow and develop to improve treatments and patient outcomes,” says Professor Ian Brown, CEO of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

The new ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility represents an apex of multidisciplinary efforts. Biologists, physicians and chemists will work together to build a deeper understanding of cancer biology and pioneer new therapeutic approaches to beat the disease.

ACRF has supported cancer research at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience since 1994. Over the past 22 years, ACRF has awarded three grants totalling $4.8M to the institute for research into all types of cancer.

“ACRF is proud to continue to support the cutting-edge research being carried out at IMB. It is our mission to do everything we can to provide Australia’s best researchers with the tools they need to end cancer,” concludes Professor Brown.

Support of cancer research in Australia turns ideas into information

The new ACRF Child Cancer Personalised Medicine Centre’s specialised robots can now rapidly test hundreds of treatments for kids with high-risk cancers to guide their care..

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.

Eleven projects were submitted from across the country and evaluated by ACRF’s esteemed Medical Research Advisory Committee who were impressed by the quality and vision of the applications. From these, four were chosen to receive grants.

“Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters from around Australia each year we are able to award high-impact grants, allowing Australia’s best scientists to embark on ground-breaking research projects. These initiatives in cancer research cover all types of cancer and speed up discoveries, ultimately working to save lives by saving time,” said Professor Ian Brown, CEO of Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

The recipients of the annual ACRF grants in 2016 are:

  • ACRF Tumour Heterogeneity Program – $2 million to learn more about the mutation, internal variation, location and the impact of time on growth and treatment of tumours. Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC), VIC
  • ACRF Tumour Metabolism Laboratory – $2.5 million to determine the differences in nutrient metabolism by cancerous and normal cells to improve cancer treatments. Centenary Institute, NSW
  • ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility – $2.3 million to provide microscopes that can see cancer cell behaviour and their response to drugs in order to stop the spread of cancer. Institute for Molecular Biosciences University of Queensland, QLD

Since its inception, 32 years ago, ACRF has awarded $129.1 million in grants to Australian cancer research institutes across the country to pay for infrastructure and equipment.

Funding from ACRF has helped get some of the most successful cancer research projects get off the ground, including the early support of the research that led to the cervical cancer vaccine.

ACRF is dedicated to funding research in Australia that has the power to make significant breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis and treatment and will continue to fund cutting-edge treatment until cancer no longer poses a threat to the health of Australians.

Technology boost to help address one of the biggest challenges facing cancer research today

Marija-Koljic-CREDIT-UQ's-Institute-for-Molecular-Bioscience - Copy small for webA $2M grant from Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has been awarded to a Peter Mac-led application from members of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) to establish The ACRF Tumour Heterogeneity Program.

This investment will see world-leading researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and the University of Melbourne join forces to address one of the biggest challenges facing cancer research today.

Tumour heterogeneity occurs when more than one distinct cancer mutation exists, either within one tumour or when there are variations of cancer mutations between tumour types. These mutations can evolve differently over time and cause significant challenges in designing effective treatment strategies.

The Program will work towards a better understanding of the diversity of evolutionary changes that result from tumour heterogeneity, gaining information that will be critical to the development of strategies that overcome and/or exploit this diversity and ultimately improve patient survival across many cancer types.

While cancer research efforts have reached a high level of sophistication, knowledge of the full extent of tumour heterogeneity remains limited, hindering efforts to understand patterns of tumour evolution, select effective therapies and combat treatment resistance in the clinical setting.

“New technologies now provide us with unprecedented opportunities to research and understand fundamental questions about tumour heterogeneity,” says Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Associate Professor, Sarah Jane Dawson, who led the application on behalf of the partnership.

“With ACRF’s support, the combined power of our laboratory and translational research will deepen our understanding of tumour heterogeneity and accelerate discoveries so they can directly benefit patients with cancer sooner,” says Associate Professor Dawson.

“ACRF exists to challenge researchers and encourages them to look at new ways of working together in an effort to realise new insights and bold ideas. We are proud to continue to support the collaborative efforts of the VCCC,” says Professor Ian Brown, CEO Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

“Many of the research institutes involved in this new initiative have received grants in the past from Australian Cancer Research Foundation, including Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne and Walter Eliza Hall Institute. The Australian Cancer Research Foundation is proud to continue to support the world-class cancer research at these institutes,” says Professor Brown.

New blood cancer centre to improve patient outcomes

blood cancer, cancer research, donate to cancer,Alfred Health and Monash University are set to establish Australia’s first dedicated blood cancer research centre, thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

The ACRF Blood Cancer Therapeutics Centre, based at The Alfred, will be home to the latest technology available in blood cancer research and will enable researchers to dramatically improve outcomes for patients with blood cancer.

Each year, 11,500 Australians are diagnosed with blood cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Sadly, these debilitating diseases – which account for one in 10 cancers diagnosed nationally – claim 4000 lives every year.

Dr Andrew Wei, haematologist at The Alfred and Monash University, said the new centre will enable researchers to find out more about these cancers – including why some treatments work for some people and others don’t – and develop new ways to treat them.

“Many of our patients with various forms of blood cancer have had great success in clinical trials, which use new and unique drug combinations,” Dr Wei said.

“Utilising the most up to date technology available, this new centre will enable us to discover more effective therapies, track patient treatment responses up to 1000 times more closely, and improve therapies to get better outcomes overall for patients.

“Blood cancers are relatively neglected when it comes to research. Thanks to this grant, Monash University and The Alfred will be at the forefront of blood cancer research – it is the only way we can improve outcomes for people diagnosed with blood cancer.”

Mary McKenzie is one such patient who owes her life to the clinical trials that will now be available to more people through the new centre. Five years ago Mary was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and after several treatments failed, took part in a drug trial at the Alfred.

“My chances of survival were really low, but here I am now five years later and I’m better than I’ve been in years. The trial saved me,” she said.

“Having the opportunity to go on the trial gave me hope there was still something they could do. This opportunity should be available to everybody.”

The flagship centre will collect samples from across the country. It is one of only four projects nationally to receive an ACRF grant this year.

“This project encompasses a virtuous cycle of drug discovery, validation, personalised molecular monitoring and improvement of new treatment combinations. It is something ACRF feels has the potential to become a flagship success,” said Australian Cancer Research Foundation CEO Professor Ian Brown.

Understanding the diet of tumours to help in the development of new cancer therapies

Removing a protein and enzyme pair can improve cancer treatmentA $2.5M grant from Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) is being awarded to The Centenary Institute today to establish the new ACRF Tumour Metabolism Laboratory.

The grant is a continuation of support to help researchers better understand the way cancer cells metabolise dietary nutrients and provide critical information to the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies.

Researchers will be focused on three fundamental and interlinked areas: nutrient uptake into tumours, sugar metabolism and fat metabolism. From this, they hope to ‘outsmart’ the cancer cells that have evolved to the point where other forms of treatment have become ineffective.

“For years cancer researchers have focused on identifying specific changes in a patient’s genes which have been associated with cancer formation and growth, and developing therapeutics to target these changes. While this information is still vital, it is becoming clear that many cancer cells are skilful at bypassing specific genetic changes and this makes many targeted therapies only briefly effective,” says Professor Philip Hogg, Head of the ACRF–Centenary Cancer Research Centre.

This reality has led to a renewed focus on a fundamental property of cancer cells that was identified some time ago: their irregular metabolism of dietary nutrients.
“Technological advances and insights into how cancer develops have unleashed new opportunities for researchers to pioneer alternative approaches to treating cancer. This project is a shining example of ACRF’s support of projects exploring new ways to beat cancer. We’re excited at the potential it holds,” says Professor Ian Brown, CEO Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

“The chief drivers of cancer, whether genetic or inflammatory, operate through altered metabolism. This research has the potential of developing therapeutics applicable to a wide range of tumours”, says Professor Mathew Vadas AO, Executive Director of the Centenary Institute.

In addition to funding from ACRF, the Cancer Institute NSW has committed to supporting Centenary Institute by providing funding for the scientists that will carry out the research.

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, said, “The ACRF Tumour Metabolism Laboratory provides an opportunity to gain important new knowledge of changes at the molecular level of tumours. The Cancer Institute NSW is proud to be partnering with the Australian Cancer Research Foundation in this exciting new initiative. By supporting researchers working in the lab, we hope to accelerate these important discoveries.”

Research at the ACRF Tumour Metabolism Laboratory will focus on the role of nutrient metabolism particularly in endometrial, brain and triple-negative breast tumours. These cancers are among the most difficult to treat of all cancers.

Endometrial cancer is diagnosed in more than 2,200 Australian women each year, accounts for 9.4% of all new cancer cases in women and has a 5-year survival rate of only 26%.
Glioblastoma is the most common and most malignant brain tumour and in terms of years of life lost is the highest of all the malignant cancers. It is associated with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5% and a median survival rate of less than 15 months.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of cancer that accounts for 10-15% of all breast cancer cases. TNBC lacks a targeted therapy, has an increased rate of recurrence, and a lower 5-year survival rate compared to other breast cancer subtypes.

Gypsys Gift: fighting cancer with music

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, donate to charity, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, give to charity, regular giving, gemma ameera, jimi may, gypsys gift Gemma and her fiancé, Jimi, started the band Gypsys Gift five years ago. Since then, the duo have won an Australian Independent Music Award, achieved rotation on Foxtel’s CMC and will shortly release their highly anticipated, debut album Chapters.

Over the weekend, the band unveiled the new music video for their single, Feed the Fire, alongside a special announcement.

“We do not ask that you buy our new song – we’re doing things a little differently this time. In support of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, we aim to create awareness of cancer research with the release of Feed the Fire. Our ONLY intention is to raise as much money as possible for cancer research. All funds raised will go directly to ACRF, and this will be an ongoing campaign for us.” said Gemma.

“The last couple of years have been both incredible and heartbreaking for Jimi and I. We have travelled the world and experienced remarkable growth, but we have also been on a tough road.

Two Christmases ago we were faced with the hard news that my Mum, Joanne, was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer.

Mum underwent multiple major surgeries to remove half her liver, gall bladder, part of the bowel and lymph nodes. She then went through six months of chemotherapy treatment as a further measure to prevent the cancer coming back.

Joanne and Gemma 2This was a whole new world for my entire family. We felt very much in the dark as we had no experience and no understanding of what anything meant. It’s safe to say the journey was hard on all of us, especially on my Mum, step-dad and two brothers who lived through this every day.

Slowly things began to feel normal again as Mum was recovering day by day. Although the physical and emotional scars of the cancer had not entirely faded, my Mum, being the warrior that she is, was soaring to better days.

Then out of the blue, while I was on my way to a songwriting session, I received a phone call that would once again change the lives of myself and family.

Mum had been re-diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver. Hearing the news was like being in a movie. A fear that I have never felt, and didn’t quite comprehend, washed over me – I was now faced with losing my mother when she was only 48 years old.

They say, as an adult you must carry on. But this time, it’s not been the case. This is now my life. I often describe it as living in a permanent nightmarish limbo-land.

We all have our good days and our bad days, but my Mum has kept us all positive and moving forward. She has spent her entire life putting everyone else before herself, and even now, she wishes for nothing more than everyone else’s happiness.

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, donate to charity, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, give to charity, regular giving, gemma ameera, jimi may, gypsys giftMum has been fighting cancer for a couple of years now – in true grace. Her resilience, strength and courage is unfathomable and we stand by her side while she battles through this.

This illness has turned the life of myself and my loved ones upside down, and this happens every day to families all over the world. Cancer does not discriminate; almost everyone has been touched by this illness in some way or another.

This painful journey has inspired Jimi and me to help put an end to cancer, and we will not cure cancer without research. This is why we feel so passionately about ACRF. It is my belief that they are by far one of the most compassionate and forward-thinking foundations we know.

We are determined to raise money for the research that we all so desperately need to stop this illness. Every little bit helps and I truly believe it raises the spirits of those struggling with cancer too. Great things happen when people work together.” ACRF supporters, Gemma & Jimi, Gypsys Gift.

To support Gemma and Jimi, click here.

Cancer Research Breakthrough could help prevent breast cancer in high-risk women

Cancer researchers at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that an existing medication could prevent breast cancer in women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene.

By pinpointing the cells that give rise to breast cancers in women who have inherited a faulty version of the BRCA1 gene, researchers have identified that the drug denosumab may have the potential to prevent breast cancer from developing. If confirmed in clinical studies, this would provide a non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with elevated genetic risk.

People who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene are at high risk of developing aggressive breast cancer. Currently, many women with the gene mutation choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing cancer.

Using samples of breast tissue donated by women carrying the faulty gene, Ms Emma Nolan, Professor Jane Visvader and Professor Geoff Lindeman were able to pinpoint the cells that give rise to breast cancer.

“Cancer precursor cells in BRCA1-mutant breast tissue had many similarities to aggressive forms of breast cancer,” said PhD student Ms Nolan.

“These cells proliferated rapidly and were susceptible to damage to their DNA – both factors that help them transition towards cancer. We were excited to discover that these pre-cancerous cells could be identified by a marker protein called RANK.”

Professor Lindeman, who is also a medical oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the discovery of RANK as a marker of cancer precursors was an important breakthrough because inhibitors of the RANK signalling pathway were already in clinical use.

“An inhibitor called denosumab is already used in the clinic to treat osteoporosis and breast cancer that has spread to the bone,” he said. “Which is what led us to investigate what effect RANK inhibition had on the cancer precursor cells in BRCA1-mutant breast tissue.”

The research team showed that RANK inhibition switched off cell growth in breast tissue from women with a faulty BRCA1 gene and curtailed breast cancer development in laboratory models.

“We think this strategy could delay or prevent breast cancer in women with an inherited BRCA1 gene mutation,” Professor Lindeman said. A clinical trial has already begun to investigate this further.

A concurrent study led by an Austrian group had also identified the importance of RANK. Both studies suggest that targeting RANK offers hope to women at high genetic risk for breast cancer.

Professor Visvader said the discovery had its basis in more than a decade of investigations of breast stem cell function.

“By thoroughly dissecting how normal breast tissue develops, we have been able to pinpoint the precise cells that are the culprits in cancer formation,” she said.

“It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the ‘holy grail’ of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk.”

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported WEHI by providing three grants, totalling AUD 5.5million towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

The research was published in Nature Medicine. The original news post was published on the WEHI website.

Cancer researchers uncover new insight into MLL translocated leukaemia

C0061986 Dr Mark Dawson's labCancer researchers at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne have found a new lead that could fast-track the development of a more targeted and effective treatment for MLL Translocated Leukaemia.

More than 80% of infants diagnosed with either Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), and up to 10% of diagnosed adults, have a sub-type known as MLL Translocated Leukaemia.

Prognosis for MLL Translocated Leukaemia is particularly poor with only 40- 50% of diagnosed infants likely to survive, and the five-year survival rates in older adults remaining at less than 20%.

Peter Mac’s Professor Mark Dawson has studied Acute Leukaemia and this particular sub-type for a decade. He says the latest findings provide a step towards next-generation therapy for the disease, for which treatment has changed very little since the 1970s.

“Every other disease that I’ve treated in my time as a haematologist has had one if not many, new drugs come along to improve treatment but this has not been the case for AML,” Professor Dawson said.

“This is a disease where patients affected are often young and fit when first diagnosed but do not respond to conventional therapy.”

Research by Professor Dawson’s team along with international collaborators has – for the first time – explained the role played by two proteins (BRD4 and DOT1L) which are known to be key regulators of MLL Translocated Leukaemia.

His research identified a previously unknown cooperation between these proteins, showing how they depend on each other to progress the disease.

Drugs which target both of these proteins are now in separate clinical trials as potential leukaemia treatments. Professor Dawson’s research suggests a combination therapy involving drugs that target both proteins at the same time may be an effective strategy against the disease.

Professor Dawson’s findings explaining the interdependence of BRD4 and DOT1L in MLL Leukaemia has been published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

“We’ve always known that these leukaemias needed these regulators but what we didn’t know was why, and we didn’t know that they spoke to each other to drive the disease,” Professor Dawson said.

“The good news is we don’t have to develop new drugs in light of this research because they are already here and in clinical trials,” Professor Dawson said.

The original article was published on Peter Mac’s website. The image of Professor Dawson was provided courtesy of Peter Mac.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre by providing three grants, totalling AUD $7million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

ACRF teams up with H&R Block to provide tax calculator that shows the true value of donations to cancer research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, fundraising, tax time donation, tax time, June tax time appeal, immediate tax benefit, tax deductible donations, tax donation, tax-deductible donationThis tax season, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has partnered with tax accountants, H&R Block to deliver an online calculator that tells individuals how much tax they will receive back from their donation, as well as exactly what their donation has the capacity to fund.

The creative concept and implementation of the calculator was all thanks to pro-bono work done by M&C Saatchi’s creative team.

“We hope that by being transparent and showing donors how much influence even a small donation can have on the work that’s being done in cancer research, it will help them understand how truly valuable their support is,” commented Professor Ian Brown, CEO of the ACRF.

Last year, donations to the ACRF went towards equipment that is being used to further develop personalised cancer treatments, detect lung cancer before it spreads, and examine native Australian plants to see if they can be used to develop new cancer treatments.

The ACRF has been a driving force behind cancer research for over 30 years. However, with success rates now less than 14 percent for applications to grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the organisation is keen to do all it can to increase the availability of vital funding.

Advancements in technology are allowing researchers to analyse data like never before. But such technology is difficult to get funding for. The ACRF is the only national charity in Australia whose sole purpose is to make advanced equipment and technology more accessible to Australian cancer researchers, regardless of the type of cancer they study. This is helping prevent the best and brightest scientists from moving elsewhere or changing jobs.

The support of H&R Block, as well as other corporate partners, continues to help ACRF provide the sector with the lifeline that it needs.

“At H&R Block we value the health and wellbeing of all Australians, so we’re proud to assist ACRF in its goal to deliver the highest impact in an area of vital need. Too many people are suffering from the effects of cancer, so being even a small part of the solution is both humbling and gratifying,” said Brodie Dixon, managing director of H&R Block.

New research study explains how cancer cells resist treatment

cancer research, types of cancer, funding research, fighting cancer, current cancer research, cancer scientists, cancer statistics Australia, cancer charity, charity foundation, ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Victoria, leukaemiaCancer researchers at grant recipient, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne have worked out how a new class of anticancer drugs kill cancer cells. The finding also helps explain how cancer cells may become resistant to treatment.

Dr Zhen Xu, Professor David Huang, Dr Stefan Glaser and colleagues studied a class of anti-cancer drugs called BET inhibitors, which are considered promising new drugs for the treatment of blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphomas.

BET inhibitors reduce tumour growth by blocking BET proteins, a family of proteins that control whether genes are switched on or off.

Although it has been known that BET inhibitors are effective at halting tumour growth, it has been unclear whether the drugs kill cancer cells outright.

The research team found that when tumours are treated with drugs, some resistant cancer cells can survive and continue to grow, leading to disease relapse. In the process, they identified potential ways in which cancer cells may develop resistance to BET inhibitors.

The experiments revealed that BET inhibitors principally act to kill cancer cells through the process of programmed cell death (apoptosis). For BET inhibitors to successfully kill lymphoma and myeloid leukaemia cells the presence of a protein called BIM, which brings on apoptosis, was critical.

“We found that when apoptosis was impaired, for instance by the loss of BIM, the BET inhibitors were no longer effective,” Dr Xu said.

“This suggests that cancer cells that acquire mutations in genes that drive apoptosis will lose sensitivity to BET inhibitors and thus will be able to survive treatment, leading to disease relapse.”

Dr Glaser said that knowing how BET inhibitors worked could help researchers develop improved strategies for using these drugs to treat cancer.

“Understanding how the drugs work gives us the opportunity to investigate new treatments, for example by using combination therapies, or altering the dosage and timing of treatment to prevent drug resistance from emerging,” Dr Glaser said.

The original news post was published on the WEHI website.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute by providing three grants, totalling AUD 5.5million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

More genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer uncovered

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Cancer researchers at ACRF grant recipient, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, along with research teams from the University of Cambridge and Oxford University, have discovered five new gene regions that increase a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus. It is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women, with nearly 2,500 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2016.

The study was led by the head of the Molecular Cancer Epidemiology laboratory at QIMR Berghofer, Associate Professor Amanda Spurdle, and has been published in Nature Genetics.

Associate Professor Spurdle said the findings helped to paint a clearer picture of the genetic causes of endometrial cancer in women who do not have a strong family history of cancer.

“Up until now, we have only known about four gene regions in women in the general population that contribute to the risk of developing endometrial cancer,” Associate Professor Spurdle said.

“In this study, we have identified another five, bringing the total to nine. This finding doubles the number of risk regions we know of, and therefore significantly increases our knowledge of the genetic drivers of endometrial cancer.”

The study also looked at how the identified gene regions might be increasing the risk of other cancers, and what the implications would be for the future treatment of endometrial cancer patients.

Interestingly, several of the gene regions we identified in the study were already known to contribute to the risk of other common cancers.

“As we develop a more comprehensive view of the genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer, we can start to work out which genes could potentially be targeted with new treatments down the track,” Associate Professor Spurdle said.

“In particular, we can start looking into whether there are drugs that are already approved and available for use that can be used to target those genes. Our genetic findings may also be useful, together with our knowledge of other risk factors, to identify women at risk of endometrial cancer so they can be regularly checked and be alert to the signs and symptoms.”

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute by providing three grants, totalling AUD 6.65million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

The original news post was published on the QIMR Berghofer website.

Introducing our 2016 City2Surf Ambassador!

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We’re excited to announce our first ever Team ACRF City2Surf Ambassador, Jessica Broome.

Jess is an incredibly positive young woman with a close connection to cancer research. We are honoured to have her join us this year as our Ambassador.

The last time Jess ran with Team ACRF was in 2014. Her Dad had been diagnosed with cancer eight years earlier, and she ran in support of his journey. After crossing the finish line, having raised over $1,600 for cancer research, she celebrated with a toast to her Dad.

This year Jess will be running again.

“I’m passionate about cancer research because I lost my Dad to cancer in April this year.

A month before we lost him, I watched him walk up the hospital hallway and achieve the massive goal he had been working towards with his physio team. It seemed impossible to most of us, but he was always determined to get better.

He was a fighter, not just as a fireman, but in the way he refused to give up.

We were fortunate that he qualified for numerous medical trials which managed to get him through each year. For ten years they kept coming back with something new, like a magic trick that the researchers would pull out of a hat.

Each new trial medication that came around, he would give it a go – no matter what. There were many years where we thought to ourselves: ‘This is it. This is the last Christmas, this is the last father’s day’…but it never was.

Thanks to those trials our family was able to spend more precious time with him, which meant so much to us.

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, cancer fun run, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, City2Surf, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, fun run, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, give to charity, marathon, Running for Cancer Research, SydneyDad loved to travel, so we were able to get in some extra holidays together. He also had the chance to ensure his family, including his now 94-year-old Mum, would be okay. We even managed to squeeze in a few more parties with him!

Mum and I were playing all his favourite songs on his last day, one of those songs was Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett. We were dancing around his bed like mad women.They say that hearing is the last thing to go, so I just know this would have made him happy.

He suffered many different cancers over the last ten years, but it was brain cancer that took him in the end. I feel that was the worst for him to go through. I’d really like to see a trial medication to treat this, other than steroids and pain killers. I know researchers are going to get there in time.

This is why I have decided to participate in this year’s City2Surf for cancer research. It’s a great way to support a great cause.

I’m not the best runner, but I really enjoy it. I think it will probably be quite a challenge as I haven’t been running for quite a while. My Dad was always telling me to get back into it, so now I’m doing it!

I think he would really love that I’m getting involved. He always liked to make sure he thanked people when they helped him. So this is my thank you on his behalf.

I’ll know I’ll probably cry through the finish line, but afterwards, I plan to throw one hell of a party! That’s how he would do it!” Jessica Broome ACRF City2Surf Ambassador

 

 

 

New genome sequencing technologies for childhood cancer patients

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Australian children with high-risk cancer will have access to new genome sequencing technologies that could help guide their treatment thanks to the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Program launched in September 2015 and is currently one of the most detailed genetic and biological analyses of children’s cancer globally. The Lions Kids Cancer Genome project will serve as an important new component to the program as it expands its efforts.

Whole genome sequencing will take place following diagnosis or relapse of cancers with the poorest prognoses, such as brain tumours.

Sequencing looks at each child’s entire genome and its 20,000+ genes in order to define the genetic changes associated with a given cancer. This makes it possible to develop personalised cancer treatment by integrating genetic information with other biological and clinical data.

In addition, the study will identify genetic changes in each child’s DNA that might predispose a person to cancer, helping to build up a database of genetic risk factors that could assist with prevention and treatment strategies in the future.

At any one time in Australia, over 2,000 children, adolescents, and young adults, are on active treatment for cancer or at risk of relapse. In most cases, the treatments used are general, non-targeted, cytotoxic drugs and the side effects from treatment can be serious and lifelong.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Program is a national initiative of Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) and The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, giving hope to children with the highest risk of treatment failure or relapse. Genome sequencing and analysis for the project will be carried out at Garvan Institute of Medical Research’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics.

The Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project is supported by the Lions Club International Foundation and by the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation. The project will roll out through the Zero Childhood Cancer Program to children’s hospitals across Australia in 2017.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) welcomes the new initiative and partnership which will contribute towards improving children’s quality of life and ending all childhood cancers.

ACRF has supported Children’s Cancer Institute, including the Zero Childhood Program, by providing three grants, totalling AUD $5.1million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology. ACRF has also supported cancer research at Garvan Institute of Medical Research, including the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, with three grants, totalling AUD $6.13million.

The original news post was published on the CCI and Garvan websites.

A taste of hope

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, charity foundation, corporate giving, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, give to charity, corporate donations, workplace giving, corporate charity donationsACRF corporate supporter, Bob Warner, is the owner of Betta Buy Wine. He has been funding cancer research since 2010.

“Ending cancer is one of the paramount issues in health today. Sadly, I have had many close friends who have lost their lives to this terrible disease.

Cancer can affect any one of us – children, the fit and healthy, and the aged alike. It knows no boundaries. We must help to bring it to an end.

Here at Betta Buy Wine we thought it was time to, again, support our friends at the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) to help raise funds for vital cancer research.

When we delved into the history of fundraising we found that many wineries around the world have been involved in raising funds for an assortment of different community causes.

So we decided to source a selection of fantastic wines that are among the top boutique wineries in Australia. And to encourage people to support ACRF, we’ve discounted them. When customers purchase from this range, we will donate $25 from the sale to ACRF.

I have been supporting the ACRF for a number of years because I know that the dollars raised go to where funding is needed the most.

By supporting our wine fundraiser you will receive great value, and at the same time help end cancer. We hope everyone enjoys these magnificent wines and the goodwill feeling that goes along with supporting a worthwhile cause.

I would encourage everyone to get on board and support cancer research in any way they can, because every dollar counts.” Bob Warner, ACRF Corporate Supporter – Betta Buy Wine

Celebrating a special group of people

20150809_104807This week, Volunteering Australia are celebrating all the benefits that volunteers bring to Australia with the theme Give Happy, Live Happy. And we want to take this opportunity to thank all the ACRF volunteers who play a large part in our mission to end cancer.

“There is so much more to volunteering than simply giving your time and skills to help others,” says Brett Williamson, OAM, CEO Volunteering Australia. “This week we say thank you to the six million Australian volunteers and celebrate that they are living healthier, happier and more meaningful lives by volunteering.”

Associate Professor Dr Thomas Nielsen, University of Canberra, says “Volunteering is a core part of the community and plays a critical role in Australian society, and in Australia’s economy. Volunteers form a formidable workforce powering many essential community services and supports.”

This is certainly true at the Australian Cancer Research Foundation. Our volutneers play a vital role and so we are extremely grateful for all that they do. With their help, we can continue to reduce the impact of cancer by funding world-class cancer research.

A special thank you goes out to the individuals that give their support in our office and to the ACRF cheer squad who encourage our runners at marathon events. We are also very appreciative of the amazing Cancerian Committees who host events across the country to raise funds, and to our corporate partners who volunteer their time to and share their professional skills.

Volunteering is a positive and inspiring way to help any cause and your enthusiasm, positivity and a dedication are the only qualifications you need!

If you would like to find out more about how you can volunteer with the ACRF, click here. To register interest for ACRF volunteering opportunities please email info@acrf.com.au or call us on 1300 884 988 to see what is available.

The forever kind of friend

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, cancer fun run, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, HBF Run for a Reason, Run for a Reason, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Types of cancer, Running for Cancer Research, PerthACRF supporter, Brett will be participating in Perth’s Run for a Reason in memory of his best friend Steph.

“Twenty years ago, at 18 years old, Steph and I met through a friend and grew close from that day on. We were quite similar – we both loved to socialise and have fun. We were always laughing and never took life too seriously. Her quick, witty humour was my favourite part about her.

Throughout our years of friendship, I would have to say, she helped shape me into the person I am today.

Just under two years ago, Steph found out she had bowel cancer. It was devastating news but we thought, since she was young, her chances of survival would be good. They weren’t. When the tests came in we were told she had stage four cancer and it had already spread throughout her body.

Steph, being the trooper that she was, fought a hard eight months and went through 20 rounds of chemo before passing last year. And she did it all with the utmost grace, I will always admire that.

I decided to raise funds for cancer research because I felt I had to do something to help. This is the first time in my life that something like this has happened. Before Steph, I’d never lost anyone close to me.

I believe it’s so important to support cancer research. Cancer is such and cruel and unforgiving disease and until it affects you or a loved one, you don’t realise how important it is to improve early detection and treatments for patients.

This is my first running event. Since Steph’s passing, I was looking for a way to play some part in raising money for cancer research and Run for a Reason seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Thank you to all my generous friends and family who have been so keen to support me.

I hope that, by sharing this story, I can encourage others to get involved and come together to help end cancer.” – Brett Stubbs-Mills, ACRF supporter

If you would like to show your support for Brett, please click here.

Cancer research develops new drug to enhance cancer treatment

Professor Ruth Ganss courtesy of Harry Perkins Institute of Medical ResearchCancer researchers at the ACRF grant recipient, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research have developed a new drug that could be used to repair blood vessel defects and allow for more targeted and effective cancer treatment delivery.

Current treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy can struggle to enter a tumour because the blood vessels that fuel it have become malformed.

Tumours require a lot of nutrients so many times this causes blood vessels to re-direct towards the tumour, leading to abnormalities in the vessels.

The drug that was developed by Woodside Professor Ruth Ganss and her team discovered that smooth muscle cells that line blood vessels to give them shape and help them pump blood often break down in tumours.

Once the smooth muscle cells break down, the blood vessel becomes leaky, reducing blood flow and preventing chemotherapy and immune cells from travelling into the tumour.

Professor Ganss said the new drug works by repairing the smooth muscle cells and returning normal blood flow to the vessels, allowing anti-cancer drugs to reach the tumour’s core.

“To achieve greater absorption of anti-cancer drugs, the blood vessels are really key,” Professor Ganss said. “Helping stem the spread of cancer.”

Professor Ganss said the defect in smooth muscle cells lining blood vessels in cancer could also be a catalyst for the cancer to spread.

“It could be that once the smooth muscle cells break down and the blood vessels become leaky, cancer cells are able to slip out of the tumours and migrate through the bloodstream to spread to different parts of the body.”

“We are currently investigating whether our drug could help stem the spread of cancer in a patient by repairing the leaky blood vessels.”

The original news article was published on the Harry Perkins website.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research by providing two grants, totalling AUD 3.6million, towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

The Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove thank ACRF supporters

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Canberra Cancerians, Canberra Cancerians Committee, Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, University of Queensland, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Government House, Canberra Cancerians Gala Dinner, Canberra Cancerians Annual BallThe Canberra Cancerians Committee is one of the most successful fundraising groups for cancer research in Australia. To date, they have raised more than $3.2 million for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Over the years, they have earned a reputation for staging some of the most sought after and glamorous events on the Canberra social calendar, which includes their prestigious annual Gala Dinner. The ACRF is very grateful for the efforts of this incredible group of volunteer fundraisers.

Last week the Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove hosted a reception to recognise the efforts of this committee and thank them for their generous contributions to cancer research over the years. Below you will find his speech.

“On behalf of Lynne and I, I welcome you to Government House. Everyone here knows what a terrible disease cancer is. It kills nearly 50,000 Australians every year.

And we all know someone, a relative or friend, whose life has been deeply affected by it. What we need to do is beat this disease. We often hear the phrase ‘imagine a world without cancer’. Well, wouldn’t that be a great thing? But imagination only goes so far.

A world without cancer can be achieved but it will be achieved through research: world-class research that helps us to better prevent and diagnose cancers and develop new treatments and cures. This is what will beat cancer. This is what will save lives.

This is what drove the ACRF’s founders, Sonia McMahon and Sir Peter Abeles, and it is what lies at the very heart of your work and the work of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Canberra Cancerians, Canberra Cancerians Committee, Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, University of Queensland, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Government House, Canberra Cancerians Gala Dinner, Canberra Cancerians Annual BallToday is about recognising the Canberra Cancerians and the foundation they support.

It is about saying thank you. Thank you for the $121 million in grants provided by the ACRF to hospitals, universities and researchers across Australia. Thank you for helping researchers at the University of Queensland find new ways to detect lung cancer before it gets a chance to spread. Thank you for supporting the John Curtin School of Medical Research to see if our native plants may hold the answers to new cures and treatments.

I could go on and on, but in short it will suffice to say that thanks to supporters like you, the foundation has transformed the scale and scope of cancer research in this country.

So take a moment to be proud of yourselves and all that you do—because what you do is remarkable, it is making a difference and it is appreciated by so many.

You are giving back, you are saving lives and you are part of a wonderful community and a wonderful foundation that is tackling cancer—head on.

And as tough as cancer may be, we’ll beat it, you’ll beat it—because not even cancer is a match for the spirit and determination I see in this room.”- His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)

Australian melanoma rates improve

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A study found that rates of invasive melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have started to decline in Australia and are predicted to keep falling over the next 15 years.

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have found that Australia no longer has the highest per capita rates of invasive melanoma in the world, after being overtaken by New Zealand.

Researchers compared the rates of melanoma in six populations over a 30-year period from 1982 to 2011. The six populations were Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, and the caucasian population of the United States.

The researchers found that melanoma rates in Australia increased from about 30 cases per 100,000 people in 1982 and peaked at nearly 49 cases per 100,000 people in 2005. The rates then declined to about 48 cases per 100,000 people in 2011. Invasive melanoma rates in New Zealand reached about 50 cases per 100,000 people in 2011.

Professor David Whiteman, who led the study, said Australia was the only one of the six populations where melanoma rates had begun to fall overall.

“We think the main reason for this decline is that Australia has put a huge effort into primary prevention campaigns since the 1980s,” Professor Whiteman said.

“Australians have become more ‘sun smart’ as they have become more aware of the dangers of melanoma and other skin cancers. Schools, workplaces and childcare centres have also introduced measures to decrease exposure to harmful UV radiation.”

“This has contributed to a decline in melanoma rates in people under the age of about 50.”

“Unfortunately, rates of melanoma are still increasing in people over the age of about 50. This is probably because many older people had already sustained sun damage before the prevention campaigns were introduced, and those melanomas are only appearing now, many decades after the cancer-causing exposure to sunlight occurred.”

Despite the fall in average melanoma rates per 100,000 people, the overall number of invasive melanomas diagnosed in Australia is still rising and is expected to increase from 11,162 cases per year from 2007-2011, to 12,283 cases per year from 2012-2016.

Professor Whiteman said this was due to the ageing of the Australian population, as well as overall population growth.

“Melanomas occur most commonly in older people. As Australia’s population ages, the number of melanomas diagnosed will continue to increase,” he said.

“The picture in Australia at the moment is mixed. While it’s good news that average melanoma rates have started to fall, the fact that the actual number of cases is still rising is bad news.”

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported cancer research at QMRI Berghofer by providing three grants, totalling AUD 6.65million towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

Mark’s eyes are on the finish line

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, cancer fundraising, cancer fun run, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, marathon, Running for Cancer Research, Types of cancer, Kidney cancer, Australian Running Festival, Canberra Times Australian Running Festival“I am 44 years old and have lived in Australia now for over 10 years. Last year, I had a very big scare when I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had to have my kidney removed as a result.

Discovering the cancer was completely incidental. I had no symptoms or impaired renal function. About eight months ago I was admitted to the hospital with lower bowel pain. The doctors performed a CT scan and found that I had colitis.

They also noticed something that looked like a cyst in my right kidney. They advised me to get it investigated further so a few weeks later I had another scan. The result came back as “consistent with a cystic renal cell carcinoma.” It was in the very centre of my kidney.

It was just two months from when we first saw the mass, to when I underwent surgery to remove my whole kidney. In that time the mass had doubled in size and the final pathology found that it was a grade 2 cystic renal cell carcinoma.

Whilst I have enjoyed a good recovery and my prognosis is very good, there are many people and families who are not so fortunate. We need better diagnosis and treatments to help battle this terrible illness that has struck down so many of our loved ones. To help raise funds for cancer research, I decided to run in the Australian Running Festival’s Canberra Times half marathon.

In 2015, I participated in the half marathon to prove to myself that I could still be healthy and active after a spinal fusion I’d had a few years earlier. This year I’ll be motivated to raise funds for cancer research, not only because of my own battle but for all my family and friends who have battled cancer, many of whom have sadly passed away.

I want to try for a personal best but I have had to make big changes to my training. The biggest being that that I have only had eight weeks to prepare. Prior to that, I was not allowed to do any exercise, as I had to allow the stomach muscles to completely heal. It will make this year’s half marathon very challenging for me but running is not just about the physical activity, it also takes mental endurance.

I hope that we can encourage more people to support cancer research so that the teams of scientists – the unsung heroes in this battle, can achieve breakthroughs that save lives.

Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me over the past six months as I have recovered and to those who have so generously donated to my page.” – ACRF supporter, Mark Potten.

To support Mark’s fundraising page, click here.

New Sydney cancer research centre looks into metabolic causes of cancer

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Centenary Institute, charity foundation, Charles Perkins Centre, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, give to charity, Phillip Hogg, Professor Philip Hogg, Sydney, Sydney Catalyst, Types of cancer, University of SydneyThe Centenary Institute, in partnership with the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) and Sydney Catalyst, today opened the new ACRF Centenary Cancer Research Centre at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre in Camperdown.

The new centre will focus on two key specialist areas of cancer research – understanding the inflammatory and metabolic causes of cancer and the drivers behind cancer-driven blood clotting.

By investigating these two areas, the research team hopes to unveil how changes in metabolism support cancer growth and how these changes can be controlled by new treatments and therapies.

The ACRF Centenary Cancer Research Centre will be headed by Professor Philip Hogg, a world-renowned researcher whose expertise lies in the discovery of new cancer-active drugs and therapies. The centre will host a team of over 40 dedicated cancer researchers whose capability spans fundamental research to clinical trials.

“I would like to thank ACRF and their supporters for funding the new centre. It will significantly expand the Centenary Institute’s capabilities in cancer research and accelerate the development of new treatments for cancer patients,” said Professor Hogg. “Having this new facility has also helped us attract a brilliant team that includes some of the world’s leading scientific minds.”

ACRF’s CEO, Dr Ian Brown said, “Supporters of ACRF helped lay the foundation for this centre, a centre that will help the team at Centenary reveal key information that will help inform better cancer treatments which is an exciting step forward.”

The new centre is located within the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and is the first dedicated cancer research centre in the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital and The University of Sydney Precinct.

The establishment has been a collaborative effort lead by the Centenary Institute and included the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Sydney Catalyst, Sydney University, the Charles Perkins Centre, RPA Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Image from left: ACRF Chairman Mr Tom S Dery AO, NSW Minister for Medical Research, The Hon. Pru Goward, MP, Centre Director Professor Philip Hogg and Executive Director Mathew Vadas AO.

Jake takes on Mt Aspiring for cancer research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, corporate giving, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, give to charity, charity adventure, trekking adventureACRF supporter, Jake Hesson, has first-hand experience of the devastating effect of cancer on families. He recently embarked on a unique fundraising challenge to raise funds for a cause close to his heart.

“Almost all of us, at some point in time, will be touched by cancer. Over the past 2 years, this disease has significantly affected a number of my family members, as well as my friends and their families. I recently lost two uncles and an aunt to cancer and now my father is also undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.

I became inspired by the work of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and wanted to help make a difference for families suffering from cancer. My brother is a cancer researcher so I know just how important charitable grants, like the ACRF grants, are to the scientific community.

I chose to combine my love of alpine mountaineering with fundraising and decided to take on New Zealand’s Mt Aspiring. Not only is this mountain one of the most beautiful in the world, it was also going to be a very physical challenge.

I’ve been climbing since 2012 and have done a number of trekking trips. However, I had never climbed anything as technically difficult as this and certainly nothing quite as exposed! I did the trip with just one very experienced (and very patient) guide.

The highlight of my trip was definitely the isolation, absolute silence and beauty of the mountains. One night I woke up at 3:30 am and when I stepped out of the tent I looked at the summit and the Milky Way.  It was all brighter than I had ever seen. It seemed to be coming directly from the top of the mountain.

My advice to others thinking about supporting cancer research is to just do it! It doesn’t matter how you are planning to raise funds, the important thing is to try. Every donation contributes to advancements in cancer research and the sense of achievement and pride you will feel is really worth it.

I’d like to make a special note of gratitude to my employer, QBE (Australia) and the QBE Foundation for matching the sums I raised and donating almost $3,000 directly to ACRF.” – Jake Hesson, ACRF supporter.

Thank you to Jake and QBE for their generous contributions to cancer research. Corporate Matching Schemes are a great way for you make the most of your fundraising efforts. If you have been involved in a fundraising event for ACRF, it could be worth asking your employer if they offer a Corporate Matching Scheme.

Melbourne researchers trial new leukaemia treatment

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity challenge, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Types of cancer, leukaemiaIn a world-first clinical trial, Melbourne medical researchers have shown that patients with an advanced form of leukaemia can achieve complete remission with a new tablet treatment.The trials were conducted at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, in collaboration with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, as well as trial sites in the US.

Clinical trials of the potent new anti-cancer drug Venetoclax showed it was effective in killing cancer cells in people with advanced forms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) when conventional treatment options had been exhausted.

Seventy-nine percent of those involved in the trial had promising responses to the new therapy – including twenty percent who went into a complete remission. A small number of patients had such a profound response that even very sensitive tests were unable to detect any remaining leukaemia in their bodies.

CLL is one of the most common forms of leukaemia, with around 1,000 people diagnosed with this type of cancer in Australia every year. More than 350,000 people were estimated to have been diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012 worldwide, with incidence rates varying across the world.

The drug has been granted priority review status by the US Federal Drug Agency (FDA) for treating some types of CLL. The designation is granted to medicines that the FDA has determined to have the potential to provide significant improvements in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a disease.

Venetoclax was developed based on a landmark discovery made in the 1980s by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists that a protein called BCL-2 promoted cancer cell survival. Venetoclax was co-developed for clinical use by US pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and was discovered as part of a joint research collaboration that involved Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists.

Professor Andrew Roberts, a clinical haematologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and cancer researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said the drug works very specifically by overcoming the action of BCL-2.

“Most trial patients responded positively to the therapy, showing substantial reductions in the number of leukaemia cells in their body. Many patients have maintained this response more than a year after their treatment began, and some patients remain in remission more than four years on,” Professor Roberts said.

“High levels of BCL-2 protect the leukaemia cells from dying, so leukaemia cells can grow and become resistant to standard treatments. Venetoclax selectively targets the interaction responsible for keeping the leukaemia cells alive and, in many cases, we’ve seen the cancerous cells simply melt away.”

Professor John Seymour, Chair of the Haematology Service at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre says, “The fact that a targeted drug, given on its own, can produce such a profound reduction in the leukaemia burden in the patient, to the point we cannot find leukaemia cells even with our best tests, underscores what a powerful strategy targeting the BCL-2 gene is.”

These results set the foundation for building towards the dream of a cure for CLL. Phase 2 and phase 3 studies are currently being undertaken to test Venetoclax across a range of blood cancers globally, including at many sites in Australia.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported cancer research at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre by providing three major grants to both institutions, totalling AUD 12.5m.

This news was first published on the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre website.

Cancer research uncovers promising new cancer drug

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Walter and Eliza Hall InstituteCancer researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne have uncovered how nutlins, a type of small molecule inhibitor, contribute to cancer cell death. Until now, it was unknown whether nutlins were killing cancerous cells or suppressing them temporarily.

In early clinical trials for treating blood cancers, Dr Liz Valente, Dr Brandon Aubrey, Professor Andreas Strasser and team discovered that nutlins are able to stop cancer growth by activating the body’s natural cancer-suppressing mechanism. They stimulate a gene called P53 to trigger programmed cell death of blood cancer cells while avoiding some of the damaging effects of chemotherapy.

Dr Aubrey, who is also a clinical haematologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the discovery reinforced that nutlins were a promising new treatment for blood cancer. They also provided invaluable information for a more personalised approach to patient care.

“Our findings will help identify which patients are most likely to benefit from nutlins and which types of cancers are most likely to respond to nutlins as a treatment,” Dr Aubrey said.

“Understanding in detail how the drugs work will help in the design of better clinical trials and bring the world closer to more precise and personalised medical treatments for cancer.”

Professor Strasser said previous research around P53 showed that one of the properties of the gene was to protect the healthy cells in the body. The gene has been identified as a major barrier to developing cancer.

“Without the ‘help’ of P53, a damaged cell can be allowed to multiply, leading to cancer development. P53 lies dormant in many types of cancer – that do not have mutations in P53 – and the nutlins work through re-awakening its activity.”

Professor Strasser said knowing more about what nutlins were capable of was a critical step towards developing more refined treatments for cancer.

“By understanding how nutlins are killing cancer cells, we can begin to formulate their best possible use, including choosing the best partner drugs to combine the nutlins with,” Professor Strasser said.

The research has been published in the journal Cell Reports. To view the original news article was published on the WEHI website, click here.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported WEHI by providing three grants, totalling AUD 5.5million towards cutting edge cancer research equipment and technology.

Cancer research to improve radiotherapy treatment

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, donate to charity, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Fundraising StoriesThe radiotherapy research team at Ingham Institute is one of only three research teams in the world to develop a new technological concept and design to improve targeted radiotherapy.

The technology, called MRI-Linac, combines an MRI magnet with a Linac Accelerator (a radiation cancer treatment machine) to improve the accuracy and precision of radiotherapy treatment for cancer.

Radiotherapy is a mode of cancer treatment that uses a Linear Accelerator to produce X-rays that kill or damage tumours to stop them from growing. However, in doing this, the radiation process may also damage normal tissue in the way of the radiation beam during the treatment. Improving the accuracy of treatment will result in better treatment outcomes and fewer side effects for cancer patients.

Until now the MRI and the Linac have worked separately. By joining them together as the MRI-Linac, the Ingham Institute has a system that enables a real-time view of tumours that stretches way beyond basic anatomy, including the chemical structure of tumours and normal tissues. The unique design of the system gives Ingham Institute scientists and cancer researchers the ability to position the treatment or radiation beam in two different arrangements which will improve accuracy further.

“Radiation treatments for cancer must take into account changes that can occur to the location and shape of tumours, which move as a result of breathing, swallowing and other normal body changes. This is where the strength of the MRI-Linac system comes into play, as it is the only system that will enable us to target the tumour with the radiation beam much more accurately in real-time and have control over the radiation dose,” said Associate Professor Gary Liney, Senior MRI Physicist at the Ingham Institute.

In 2014, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation provided a grant of AUD 2.5 million for the creation of The ACRF Image-X Institute at the Ingham Institute. The research is in its early days and the clinical applications of the new treatment are 5-10 years away.

Fighting blood cancers with new therapies

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Researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne are pioneering the development of a new combination drug therapy to treat advanced blood cancers.

The new therapy builds on a world-first clinical trial already underway at Peter Mac, which uses the drug CX-5461 to treat patients with incurable blood cancers such as myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia.

The new discovery, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, has shown promising results to date. The research team has found that CX-5461 could be even more effective when used in combination with another drug, Everolimus, already used to treat other cancers. The new combination has shown doubled survival times in pre-clinical laboratory models.

According to Professor Rick Pearson, Head of Peter Mac’s Cancer Signalling Laboratory, the research findings significantly enhance understanding of pre-emptive strategies to kill off cancer cells before they have the chance to become resistant to therapy.

“CX-5461 targets a particular process that is required for cancer cell survival. Our experiments show that adding Everolimus synergistically strengthens this attack, more rapidly and more effectively eradicating the killer disease.”

“We know that all cells rely on ribosomes (protein builders of the cell Ed.) which act like a factory producing the proteins essential for their growth and survival,” said Professor Pearson.

“Peter Mac researchers have previously shown that certain blood cancers are far more reliant on these proteins than normal cells and that eliminating the protein production capability of ribosomes leads to the rapid death of cancer cells while normal cells stay viable.”

“This novel therapy works to inhibit the ribosomes’ protein production capability, effectively starving the cancer cells of a key ingredient they need to survive and proliferate.”

“A further study in collaboration with scientists at Monash University shows striking effects in the targeting of late stage prostate cancer through a similar strategy indicating that this approach may be generally applicable for a range of cancer types.”

Associate Professor Simon Harrison, Consultant Haematologist at Peter Mac and Principal Investigator on the CX-5461 first-in-human trial, says this new research provides further confidence that researchers are on the right track.

“The prevalence and poor prognosis for people with advanced blood cancers demand the ongoing and intricate study of abnormal cell behaviour, which has been an indicator of cancer for over 100 years. To date, 15 patients have been treated on the first-in-human clinical study with a number of patients experiencing prolonged benefit.”

More than 12,000 Australians are diagnosed with blood cancer annually (approximately 10% of all cancers) and around 4,000 Australians will lose their lives to the disease each year.

This research is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council; Cancer Council Victoria; the Leukemia Foundation; Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia; Cancer Australia; Victorian Cancer Agency, Australian Cancer Research Foundation and Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation. Collaborators include the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University and Monash University.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has supported cancer research at Peter Mac by providing three major grants, totalling AUD 7 million.

The news was originally published on Peter Mac’s website.

 

 

Scanning centre to transform disease research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, fundraising, QIMRThe diagnosis and treatment of cancers, mental health disorders and conditions such as dementia is set to reach new heights in Brisbane with the launch of a $24 million facility that combines state-of-the-art equipment with world-class research and clinical expertise.

The Herston Imaging Research Facility has officially been launched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Facility Medical Director Dr Liz Kenny said the new centre was one of the most exciting clinical imagery ventures in the Asia Pacific.

“It will become the centre of clinical research in Queensland through the use of cutting-edge imaging equipment and will contribute to the understanding of diseases and the development of new drugs and treatment therapies,” she said.

Dr Kenny, who is also the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s senior radiation oncologist, said the facility featured hybrid scanners which combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT), allowing molecular processes and anatomical images to be captured simultaneously.

“This results in a faster and more efficient process for researchers, clinicians and patients,” she said.

The facility is a collaboration between The University of Queensland, the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, the Queensland University of Technology and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, with Siemens as an industry supporter.

University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Hoj said the infrastructure made Queensland a better environment for the development of new patient treatments.

“It will add value to other recent partnership developments like the Queensland-Emory Drug Discovery Initiative and the Centre for Advanced Imaging, and give Queensland innovators a sharper edge in the global race for new preventions, treatments and cures,” he said.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation Chairman, Mr Tom Dery, said the facility would help Queensland’s world-class cancer scientists pursue important cancer research discoveries.

“The future of cancer prevention and treatments depends on Australia’s best researchers having access to the cutting-edge resources and technologies such as these,” he said.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute mental health and complex disorders leader Professor Michael Breakspear said the imaging facility would enable work to begin to categorise and discover different subtypes of mental health disorders.

“We’re exploring ways to diagnose mental health disorders before the symptoms appear,” he said.

“To do this, we need to develop new diagnostic tests using medical imaging technology.”

QUT Faculty of Health Assistant Dean (Research) and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Deputy Director Professor Greig De Zubicaray said the scanning capability of the new facility would contribute to understanding of the function and structure of diseases such as cancer and stroke.

“With this imaging technology we can detect disease, we can monitor progress and we can see whether or not we can predict recovery,” he said.

The Herston Imaging Research Facility is on the Herston health campus, near the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and major medical research facilities.

The Global Effort to End Cancer

Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has shared his hope that one day America will cure cancer. In his state of the union address on Wednesday, he declared, “For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save – let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

Australian Cancer Research Foundation CEO Professor Ian Brown spoke with ABC Radio National to explain why researchers believe that a cure for cancer really is on the horizon.

“There are statements being made now, that say within a generation, cancer will go from being a source of trepidation, where a sizeable number of people are lost, to one where it will become a treatable disease. And there are very good reasons why we think we’re heading in that direction.

Going back 30-40 years ago, the number of people who were passing away from cancer was quite high and since then researchers have worked to increase our knowledge of the disease substantially.

Today, about 50% of people who contract cancer will survive. But this varies between certain types of cancer. Take thyroid cancer for instance, the survival rates are much higher than they used to be, with more than 95% of people now surviving. However, in a range of other cancers, such as pancreatic cancer or mesothelioma, the survival rates have remained very low.

Over time three main ways have been established as methods to treat most cancers, those are: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. But over the last 15 years, we have come to understand more about how cancer forms and this has helped shape new treatment methods.

We now know that cancer is basically a mutational change to the genetic information that causes the cells to proliferate abnormally. These cells won’t simply die and our own internal systems aren’t able to kill the tumours. With this understanding, scientists have worked to find new ways to fight this disease.

Medicine is now becoming far more personalised. Information about each individual’s tumour is now being logged into databases. This includes data such as: what the mutation was, what doctors used to try and treat that particular tumour, and whether that treatment was successful, making it far easier for doctors treating the varying mutations that cause different cancers.

The Human Genome Project in 2002 was the first example of such a database, logging all the genetic information that we had. It cost around $3 billion and took twenty years to complete. Whereas, the equipment that we now have, can do this much faster and easier that for less than $1000.

This is why seed funding for upgrading technology and infrastructure is so important. By equipping the best researchers with the right tools, we will speed up discoveries and ultimately save lives.

Science is a collaborative enterprise. People are constantly working to add to our understanding of cancer. We know that by sharing this knowledge around the world, progress is possible. For example, after it was discovered that certain types of viruses could cause cells to become cancerous Australian scientist, Professor Ian Frazer co-developed the cervical cancer vaccine which can now prevent various forms of cancer. This vaccine has now been used in hundreds of millions of people in 120 countries around the world.

So as Obama delcared, America will continue to play an important role in curing cancer, but ending this disease will take global collaboration.”

To listen to the interview: Click here

Breakthrough in predicting the spread of cancer

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Types of cancerA team of cancer researchers from Australia and the UK have bred a biosensor mouse that has enabled them to watch as pancreatic cancer cells ‘unzip’ right before they begin to spread.

“Our biosensor mouse makes it possible to look at a primary tumour that has not yet spread: in real time, in 3D, and in a living tumour. Using state-of-the-art laser technology, we can see, at a molecular level, whether the contacts that hold tumour cells in place have started to unzip – and that’s a sign that the cancer is about to spread,” says Dr Paul Timpson of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

To understand how unzipping contributes to the spread of pancreatic cancer, the researchers implanted a genetic model of invasive pancreatic cancer. Remarkably, the researchers were able to successfully rezip these cancer cells by treating them with anti-cancer therapies, stopping the spread of cancer before it had begun.

To make the biosensor, the researchers bred a mouse in which a key “zippering” protein that holds cells together – called E-cadherin – was linked to a protein from jellyfish that glows green in fluorescence microscopy. This allowed for them to pinpoint when key changes occured.

Which is incredibly important given that five-year pancreatic cancer survival rates stand at just 6.1% – a figure that has barely changed in the last 40 years. “Many patients present with pancreatic cancer at a very advanced stage, when the cancer has already spread to other tissues such as the liver,” says Dr Timpson.

“But sometimes, the cancer is detected before it has spread – and that’s the point where we have an opportunity to intervene and stop it in its tracks. If we give a drug early enough, we can rezip those cells together.”

Dr Timpson says the most exciting part of the study was the fact that the existing treatment – an anti-invasive drug called dasatinib – allowed us to stabalise the primary tumour. “We treated mice that had developed pancreatic cancer that had yet to spread with the anti-invasive drug [and] within three days of treatment, we saw cells within the tumour had re-zippered, and the tumour had stabilised.”

Similar results were achieved with a second therapy, saracatinib.

“The biosensor mouse is a powerful tool for anti-cancer drug discovery,” Dr Timpson says. “It makes it possible to evaluate the effect of new therapies on tumour spread, in real time and in a system that reflects human cancer as closely as is currently possible.”

Dr Timpson points out that this is just the beginning for the biosensor mouse. “We now have a model that is one step ahead of the invasion process in pancreatic cancer – but we are also already using this model in our laboratory for other aggressive and highly invasive cancer types, such as breast cancer.

“Ultimately, we expect to use the biosensor mouse to explore zippering and cancer spread in a wide range of tumours throughout the body.”

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research has received three ACRF cancer research grants totalling $6.13m. To read the original article, click here.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation gives $17 million to advance cancer research

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The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) announced its 2015 grant recipients at an awards ceremony in Sydney last night. This included one of the largest private grants for cancer research equipment in Australian history, the $10 million ACRF 30th anniversary grant.

The anniversary grant was awarded to The Children’s Medical Research Institute based in Sydney, for the establishment of The ACRF International Centre for the Proteome of Cancer (ProCan). This facility will enable the analysis of tens of thousands of samples of all types of cancers from all over the world. It will also allow scientists in Australia to develop a library of information to advance scientific discovery and enhance clinical treatment worldwide. The end result will be rapid and more accurate development and initiation of the most appropriate cancer treatments for each individual patient.

“Our 30th-anniversary grant for $10 million is something ACRF is very excited about,” said Professor Ian Brown, CEO of ACRF. “We knew this amount of money could make a real difference, stimulate new ideas and bring us closer to ending cancer.”

“ACRF challenged the Australian cancer research community to propose projects that were bold and that would have a very significant impact on cancer prevention, detection and treatment. The response was tremendous with six very impressive projects submitted.”

Our international judges were impressed both by the quality and vision of the applications and the high standard of Australian research. CMRI was chosen after lengthy discussion to be the best of the best.”

In addition, Cancer Institute NSW will be supporting the project by funding a full time researcher at CMRI to operate the new technology.

The recipients of the annual ACRF grants in 2015 are:

  • The Australian Synchrotron ($2million) for the establishment of the ACRF Detector. The technology, which is available at only a handful of other synchrotron facilities around the world, will enable the shape and function of proteins to be analysed ten times faster, and more accurately, shortening the timeline from laboratory research to clinical trials of new cancer drugs.
  • The John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU ($2 million) for the establishment of the new ACRF Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics. The department will help to understand the underlying biology of cancer and to develop new drugs to treat Australian cancer patients. Research will focus on Australia’s Chmome (whole sets of small molecule natural products) and exploring the existing collections for novel lead compounds that can be developed into drugs for cancer therapy.
  • The Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) in South Australia ($2 million) for the establishment of the world-class ACRF Cancer Discovery Accelerator facility in Adelaide. The centre aims to significantly enhance our understanding of fundamental cancer biology and translate these findings to improve outcomes for Australian cancer patients.
  • University of Queensland, Thoracic Research Centre ($1million) for the establishment of the ACRF Centre for Lung Cancer Early Detection. The Centre will conduct research into the discovery and development of innovative methods for detecting lung cancer as early as possible. Lung cancer remains a major worldwide cause of cancer deaths, and early detection will improve treatment outcomes and survival rates.

The recipient of 30th-anniversary grant was selected by an international judging panel after a competitive application process. The four annual grant recipients were selected by the ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee comprising eminent Australian and international cancer researchers and clinicians, chaired by Professor Ian Frazer.

Research discovery paves the way to prevention of a common childhood cancer

TeamSciTraMed

Researchers at Children’s Cancer Institute have identified a molecular ‘feedback loop’ that accelerates the development of neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system in children. Fortunately, the research team has also identified an experimental drug, currently in clinical trials for adult cancer, with the potential to interrupt the loop and halt tumour progression.

Researchers showed in laboratory models of neuroblastoma that the drug could block the very start of this embryonal cancer, paving the way to possible prevention strategies in the future.

They found that a combination of the drug – known as CBL01371 – used in combination with traditional DNA damaging chemotherapy agents was much more effective than either drug alone.

Professor Michelle Haber AM, leader of the Experimental Therapeutics laboratory and Professor Glenn Marshall AM, leader of the Molecular Carcinogenesis laboratory at Children’s Cancer Institute, worked on two very different aspects of the study.

Professor Marshall’s team focused on the genetic and molecular mechanisms behind the feedback loop, and its interruption by CBL0137. Professor Haber’s team focused on the therapeutic potential of CBL0137, both as a single agent and in combination with other drugs.

“Our laboratory tests tell us that CBL0137 is likely to be very effective against the most aggressive neuroblastomas, and indeed the most aggressive forms of other childhood cancers, and that is very exciting,” said Professor Haber.

“But what is particularly exciting is that, in contrast to many other chemotherapeutic agents, CBL0137 does not damage DNA, and it is DNA damage that is responsible for the many unpleasant and serious side-effects that frequently affect children after they are cured of their cancer.”

“The drug is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials for adults, which means that safe dosage levels are being tested. Once the adult trials are completed, a Phase 1 trial for children with refractory – or relapsed – neuroblastoma, and also other aggressive childhood cancers, will open in the United States and Australia,” Professor Haber said.

Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumour cancer of early childhood, and is generally diagnosed when the disease is advanced. Around half of all children with neuroblastoma have aggressive tumours, and fewer than half of these patients survive, even after intensive treatment.

These findings are published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

This news item was originally published on the Children’s Cancer Institute’s website. The original version provides more detailed scientific information on the study.

ACRF has supported cancer research at the Children’s Cancer Institute by providing three major grants, totalling AUD $5.1m.

Image courtesy of Children’s Cancer Institute. Clockwise from left to right: Professor Glenn Marshall, Dr Dan Carter, Professor Murray Norris, Professor Michelle Haber, Jayne Murray

Cancer Research to Benefit from Twitter for Cells

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Types of cancer, Professor Alistair Forrest, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

An international team of researchers have completed a study into cell behaviour, providing insight into how different, specialised cell types communicate as a cohesive network.

The researchers have produced the first map of cell-to-cell communication which shows the division of labour between cell types and reveals the ways cells use proteins to pass hundreds of messages between each other. This will help advance cancer research in the future.

The lead author, Professor Alistair Forrest, recently joined the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in WA as Laboratory Head of Systems Biology and Genomics to continue his work with a renewed focus on cancer. Professor Forrest says systems biology studies all elements (typically genes or proteins) simultaneously to see how they work together in a system (or network) instead of focusing on only one or two genes at a time.

“What we have revealed in this new research is that cells have many ways of talking to each other.” Imagine twitter for cells – hundreds of cell types telling each other what is happening via hundreds of different messages.

Professor Forrest says the work has important implications for medicine. “The proteins involved are actually well known to the general public. Insulin, human growth factor and leptin are important in diabetes, height and obesity. This type of signalling is also very important in our immune response to infectious diseases. It’s also important in cancer – in particular neuroblastoma and lung cancer.”

The researchers believe that further investigation will provide answers into what happens to this intercellular information in cancer cells and how cancer avoids the immune system. It is hoped that this research will eventually help identify new therapeutic targets to improve treatments for people battling cancer.

The original article was published on the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, click here to read more.

Breakthrough cancer research technologies to advance treatments

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, fundraising, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, charity foundation, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Professor Doug Hilton, Professor Jim Bishop, ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory, CRISPR/Cas9 technology

With support from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has today unveiled the $2.5 million ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory which will help researchers uncover new insights into how cancer develops, and how it can be more effectively treated.

This is the third ACRF grant awarded to Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. These grants were awarded 2001, 2010 and 2014 with a combined value of $5.5 million to help researchers make breakthroughs in genomics, as well as breast, lymphoma and lung cancers.

The ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory is Australia’s first dedicated cancer laboratory to use ‘CRISPR/Cas9’ technology to target and directly manipulate genes in cancer cells.

The facility will be used by researchers from WEHI and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) partners to enhance and accelerate research into many of Australia’s most common, and most deadly, cancers including cancers of the blood (leukaemia, lymphoma), breast, ovary, lung and bowel.

The director of the WEHI, Professor Doug Hilton, said the ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory would provide an enormous boost to Australia’s cancer research efforts. “It has become clear that technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 can accelerate new breakthroughs in understanding cancer and developing new treatments.”

“The generosity of ACRF and its donors has allowed us to equip our research teams with precisely the tools they need to advance their research,” Professor Hilton said.

Mr Tom Dery, Chairman of the ACRF Board said “We are proud to enable the ground-breaking research conducted at the ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory. The facility will help to accelerate new treatments for people with cancer in Australia and worldwide.”

The contributions Australian researchers are making to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer are very significant. “More than 14 million people around the world were diagnosed with cancer last year, including more than 125,000 Australians,” Mr Dery said.

Professor Jim Bishop, Executive Director of the VCCC, said the ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory represented a critical addition to the Victoria’s cancer research capabilities. “The facility provides our researchers with unparalleled access to world-leading technology.”

“The strength of the VCCC lies in the close ties it fosters between the laboratory-based, clinical and other researchers in its partner organisations. This means that discoveries made in the ACRF Breakthrough Technologies Laboratory will be translated into new treatments for cancer as rapidly in Melbourne as anywhere in the world,” Professor Bishop said.

The VCCC is an alliance of ten successful Victorian organisations committed to cancer care: the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health (including The Royal Melbourne Hospital), The University of Melbourne, The Royal Women’s Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Western Health, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne Austin Health and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The original article was published on the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute website, click here to view.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Unveils ACRF Centre for Comprehensive Biomedical Imaging at QIMR Berghofer

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, Funding research, give to charity, QIMRX QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research, QIMR Berghofer Cancer Research Institute, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland, Professor Frank Gannon, Russell Caplan, QIMR Berghofer, ACRF Centre for Comprehensive Biomedical Imaging, Queensland Premier

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiled Queensland’s newest weapon in the fight against cancer this week, opening the ACRF Centre for Comprehensive Biomedical Imaging at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

A $2.6 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation has funded the three state-of-the-art microscopes housed by the new lab – a significant and exciting advancement for the institutes researchers.

Ms Palaszczuk said the centre would allow QIMR Berghofer to unlock new techniques which would dramatically accelerate our understanding of cancer.

“To beat cancer, we need both brilliant minds and cutting edge technology – as we can see today, QIMR Berghofer has both,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“This imaging facility will build on Queensland’s global reputation for research excellence.”

“And it builds on my government’s Advance Queensland strategy – to not only consolidate and grow our research base, but also develop investment opportunities to diversify and strengthen our economy.”

QIMR Berghofer Director and CEO Professor Frank Gannon said the new imaging equipment would allow the Institute to build on its world-leading immunotherapy program.

In recent days QIMR Berghofer has launched Phase II clinical trials of an immunotherapy treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and announced a major agreement with a global pharmaceutical company to discover cancer antibodies.

“Thanks to the generosity and vision of the ACRF we will be able to take our research to a new level of understanding and target cancer with greater accuracy as our scientists continue to deliver outcomes which have real consequences for patients,” says Professor Gannon.

The ACRF CCBI consists of three crucial pieces of imaging equipment: a multiphoton intravital microscope for imaging of live cells; a laser scanning confocal microscope for high resolution imaging of cancer at the molecular level; and a spinning disc confocal microscope for imaging signalling pathways in cancer cells.

The new equipment will also allow QIMR Berghofer scientists to study the process by which cancers metastasise, or spread, to distant tissues.

ACRF Trustee Russell Caplan said that since the ACRF was established in 1984 it has awarded more than $103.9 million to 34 research centres across Australia.

“Eleven of those grants ($23.3 million) have been distributed to research centres in Queensland and three of them have directly funded projects at QIMR Berghofer ($6.65 million).”

“These grants are awarded on the basis of research excellence and are subject to a rigorous approval process overseen by a Medical Research Advisory Committee made up of some of Australia’s most respected researchers, so it says a lot about the level of work being conducted at QIMR Berghofer,” Mr Caplan said.

To learn more about the other grants that have been awarded to leading research institutes across Australia click here.

International gene study identifies five new melanoma risk regions

ACRFX Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Cancer Research, Cancer Research Grants, cancer scientists, current cancer research, Fighting cancer, melanoma, cancer scientists Australia, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Doctor Matthew Law, Melanoma Genetics Consortium, genome wide association study, GenoMEL, research discoveries

An international study led by QIMR Berghofer cancer researcher, Dr Matthew Law, has uncovered five new gene regions which increase a person’s risk of melanoma.

Melanoma is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and although there are effective treatment options available to those who detect it early, the five-year survival rate of patients with more advanced cases is only 10%.

“Each day around 30 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma, and from that more than 12 hundred a year lose their battle with the disease,” says Dr Law. “So each little piece of knowledge that we uncover is crucial as it affects the overall picture and helps us to continue to develop and improve the ways we detect and treat it.”

The study found five new regions of the genome associated with melanoma and formally confirmed two more that were suspected to be risk factors.

This research takes the total number of known melanoma gene risk regions to 20. “Most of the major gene risk regions previously identified are associated with pigmentation, or the number of moles a person has. The five new gene regions we’ve discovered are from different pathways, so it’s yet another piece to add to the melanoma puzzle.”

“Out of the new regions that were found, the most interesting biologically, was one involved with the maintenance, development and length of the telomeres. Telomeres are like shoelace caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes from damage. We know that loss or damage to telomeres is a key factor in the development of cancer cells.”

Over 12 thousand melanoma samples were used for the project, making it the largest genome wide association study (GWAS) to identify variations associated with melanoma.

The international collaboration of researchers from QIMR and the Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL) are now preparing for an even larger study which is expected to find more markers of risk.

“Our long term goal is to find drugs that modify the pathways that we’re identifying – that way we’ll be able to alter specific activity and bring it back to normal.”

“It’s very exciting to find something new about a serious condition – that’s the joy of doing this kind of research. Working in science is all about discovering new things that haven’t been seen or understood before and hopefully add a bit more knowledge to the world.”

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has received $6.65 million in grants from the ACRF which has funded technology to progress research in colon, breast, ovarian, prostate, leukaemia, lymphoma and melanoma.

The original article was published on the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research website. 

Researchers Honoured at Cancer Institute NSW Awards

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Last Friday the ACRF attended the 2015 Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. These awards honour the achievements of the individuals and teams that work across the cancer research sector to lessen the impact of cancer on the community through prevention, early detection, innovation, and research discoveries.

The event marked the 10th anniversary of the awards and was hosted by the Cancer Institute NSW at Doltone House, Hyde Park. Over three hundred guests from the health and medical sector attended.

The night celebrated excellence and innovation in cancer research, acknowledging the immense contributions of professionals who have dedicated their life’s work to improving the lives of people with cancer, and commending ‘rising stars’ who are embarking on brilliant new research endeavours.

Throughout the night, speeches not only discussed the scientific implications of their findings on future treatments and preventions, but recognised the real world difference cancer research is making to patients battling the disease today.

Keynote speaker Professor Terry Speed, a world-leader in statistics and bioinformatics, marvelled at the impact cancer research teams have on patients. “I severely underestimated the realism of the people in this room. It was a moment of awakening for me, when I realised that someone I knew from an institute that I worked at had made such an impact on my nephew who just had a stem cell transplant.”

Winner of the ‘Wildfire’ Highly Cited Publication Award, Ms Amber Johns, acknowledged the collaborative nature of cancer research worldwide, “it’s important to thank the dedicated scientists undertaking the research, the clinicians for everything they do for our patients and to our patients who volunteer for these studies, and allow researchers into their bedside at such a vulnerable time in their lives.”

Dr Geoffrey McCowage, a paediatric oncologist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network Westmead won the Excellence in Translation Cancer Research Award for his work with Gene Therapy. He shared insight on the emotional impact of working in this field. When asked whether the scientific rewards outweigh how difficult it is to work with childhood cancers, Dr McCowage responded with “Absolutely, however people often ask me if it gets any easier to deal with tragedy, and as the years go on I honestly have to say it gets harder.”

Despite the difficulties, Professor Speed revealed that in his experience he found that many researchers are motivated to continue on by a single thought: “There’s a driving force at the back of our minds – if a Eureka moment does happen, there will be an army of people who will bring this discovery from the bench to the bedside.”

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation thanks the nominees and award winners for their hard work and dedication. We know that these awards go beyond recognition of a scientists achievement, they are a celebration of the shared progress that brings us closer towards finding a cure for all cancers.

ACRF announces special $10 million Anniversary Grant.

Westmead-LEUKAEMIA-LAB-300x154This year, Australia’s best cancers researchers will make exciting leaps forward in their work and we are excited to be contributing to this progress.

The first of our grant rounds for 2015 is now open, calling for applications for a special Anniversary Grant of $10 million.

This major grant is being offered to foster cutting-edge ideas in Australia’s cancer research circles. It commemorates the ACRF’s 30 year anniversary in keeping with the mission of the Foundation:  to promote bold and significant advances in the prevention, early detection, treatment and/or management of cancer.

It has been created to stimulate collaborative cancer research – bringing together expertise from around Australia and the world towards a shared and powerful research goal.

Detailed, written applications for the 2015 Anniversary Grant will be accepted up to COB on Friday 1 May, 2015.

A special expert panel, nominated by the ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) will review the applications for scientific merit and select a shortlist to proceed to interview and, if deemed appropriate, a site visit.

We look forward to receiving outstanding applications from Australia’s best research teams, and will be sure to keep you informed on where your wonderful support will be making a difference this year.

For more information about our grants please click here.

Researchers develop antibody to target cancerous ovarian cells.

59910457_m1320934-pancreatic_cancer_-300x168Researchers from the Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) have developed an antibody drug, in pre-clinical trials, which attacks cancerous ovarian cells.

The drug has been found to successfully target a specific protein which is present only on the surface of cancerous ovarian cells, not on normal ovarian cells.

Associate Professor John Hooper said, “One of the really interesting things is that while normal ovaries don’t produce this protein, the tumours of about 90 per cent of patients do.”

By targeting this protein, the drug will also help limit the serious side-effects of traditional treatments.

“We can attack the cancerous cells while having little impact on the normal ovarian cells, and that reduces the side-effects, which is obviously of great interest to patients” Associate Professor Hooper said.

“Another thing we found with this protein is that it sits on the surface of the cancerous cells so it’s much easier for the drug to target it.”

While the study is still in its early stages, the research team are taking leaps and bounds towards a better understanding of how to attack ovarian cancer, which is currently the second most commonly diagnosed gynaecological cancer in Australia.

In the project’s next phase, researchers will study how the antibody responds to patient samples to further determine its effectiveness.

More information about this discovery can be found here.

Discovery of four pancreatic cancer sub-types raises hope for future treatments.

Cancer ResearchACRF funding has enabled a new discovery which will improve pancreatic cancer treatments of the near future.

Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), and QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research collaborated with researchers from the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre in Scotland, to analyse the complete genetic code of pancreatic tumours in 100 patients.

The team identified and mapped out the extensive and damaging genetic changes – finding four key subgroups which differentiate pancreatic tumours by their gene arrangements: ‘stable’, ‘locally rearranged’, ‘scattered’ and ‘unstable’.

Professor Sean Grimmond from IMB said, “Having access to these detailed genetic maps could help doctors in the future determine which chemotherapy drug a patient should get, based on their cancer’s genome.”

This discovery already promises to improve the treatment of at least one of these groups after the researchers noticed an existing class of chemotherapy drugs, used to treat some breast cancers, may also work on patients whose pancreatic tumours have the “unstable” genomes.

The team of researchers realised the significance of their discovery when they found four out of five study patients with this genetic signature responded to the DNA-damaging drugs.

“Two of them had an exceptional response, which happens very, very rarely in pancreatic cancer. Their tumours went away completely,” said the co-leader of the group, Andrew Biankin, who conducted the work at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Dr Nicola Waddell from QIMR Berghofer (previously from IMB) said pancreatic cancer remained one of the most complex cancers to treat, with a survival rate that has not improved considerably in the last 50 years.

“Our study identified four major genomic subtypes in pancreatic cancer, revealed two new driver genes not previously associated with pancreatic cancer, and reaffirmed the importance of five key genes,” said Dr, Waddell.

The team at IMB plan to begin a clinical trial in the UK, selecting patients for targeted treatments based on their genomic testing.

The ACRF is proud to have supported each the Australian research centres involved in this study with funding over many years. 

International study improves test for people at risk of bowel or endometrial cancers.

cancer researchA more accurate way to identify those at a high risk of bowel or endometrial cancer has been discovered by cancer scientists in Queensland.

Researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute led a global effort to refine genetic information in an international database, meaning GPs will have the ability to access the publicly-available data and give patients a truer picture of their familial risk.

This global project arose from the issues many GPs and patients seemed to be having from inconclusive results when tested for Lynch Syndrome – an inherited condition that increases the risk of bowel and endometrial cancer.

Associate Professor Amanda Spurdle, who led the project, said, “The model – using the expertise of researchers and clinicians across the world with a particular knowledge of a rare disease – essentially turns indecipherable sequencing data into real knowledge that can have a clinical benefit.”

“As a result of this work, doctors can more conclusively say whether those patients have Lynch Syndrome, and therefore whether they are at a higher risk of getting another cancer.

“The reverse of that is that we may also ease the worry of some people who’ve had inconclusive results.”

The research team involved Professor Maurizio Genuardi from the University of Florence and Professor Finlay Macrae from the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The International Society for Gastrointestinal Tumours (InSiGHT) committee pooled data from across the world on thousands of different gene changes.

“Through this collaborative effort, we can be confident of our counselling advice to families, offer them testing for the gene fault, and, if they carry it, help them closely monitor their health and take preventative measures,” Associate Professor Spurdle said.

The findings of this project can be found in esteemed research journal Nature Genetics.

The ACRF is proud to have supported QIMR Berghofer Medial Research Institute, having provided more than $6 Million in research grant funding since 2002.

Possible cause of world’s most common childhood cancer, discovered

Cancer scientistsResearchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre have discovered a possible cause of medulloblastoma, one of the world’s most common childhood cancers.

Cancer scientists have found mature cells in the brain can revert to basic stem cells and initiate cancer – a process previously thought not to be possible.

Trials undertaken in the fruit fly, which shares around 70 per cent common cancer genes with humans, found mature cells, in the absence of a key gene, revert into rapidly dividing stem cells that can cause brain tumours.

Dr Louise Cheng, Head of the Stem Cell Growth Regulation Laboratory at Peter Mac and lead author on the study, said, ‘It was thought that, once matured, brain cells or neurons could not go backwards and become stem cells again — but we found this process is in fact reversible.

“In our fruit fly model, we found that once a gene called Nerfin-1, which keeps neurons locked in a mature, non-dividing state, is lost, the neurons revert to an out-of-control stem cell state, rapidly initiating cancer and quickly becoming brain tumours.”

These findings are significant as medulloblastoma patients often have a faulty version of the human equivalent of this Nerfin-1 gene, called INSM1.

“INSM1 is frequently mutated in people with medulloblastoma and we believe preserving the protective role of INSM1 could prevent the reversion of mature neurons into stem cells, and stop cancer initiation in the brain,” said Dr Cheng.

“This is particularly important in the current treatment context where chemotherapy is used to target rapidly dividing cells, but does not kill non-dividing, mature cells, which we now know can be a cause of medulloblastoma, potentially explaining why chemotherapy is not always successful in treating brain cancers in the long term.”

This discovery that non-dividing cells may also cause cancer now opens the door for cancer scientists to develop of new targeted therapies and drugs with the potential to block this reversion of non-dividing cells and eliminate cancer-causing stem cell populations altogether.

This information was originally published on the Peter MacCallum website and can be found here.

Who is The One?

TheOne, ACRF, Fighting CancerNext week on February 4, people around the world will be getting involved in World Cancer Day, joining forces to show that cancer, its treatments and its cures are not beyond us.

A cancer free future is within our reach and we as a global community have the power to achieve this.

Fittingly, World Cancer Day’s 2015 tagline also ties in with some extremely exciting events happening at the ACRF. Next week is set to be a very momentous one.

Over many months, an incredible team of people – digital agencies, media outlets, Australian cancer researchers, and more – have been busily supporting the ACRF to produce a truly inspiring and original campaign.

It’s a campaign we hope will create a new movement towards increased support for cancer research.

While we can’t say too much to spoil the surprise, our campaign uses the latest in digital and social technology to give you – our supporters – a unique interactive experience.

We want to show you just how important you are in this fight against cancer.

The new campaign will feature alongside a series of websites that the ACRF has been developing in collaboration with Australian scientists, research centres, other not-for-profits, and like-minded organisations.

This community-based initiative is the next step towards putting an end to cancer. Its focus is to generate more awareness and funding for cancer research and we are so excited to get our supporters involved.

We look forward to staying in touch with you on new developments and for those on social, be sure to follow #WhoIsTheOne . Thank you for your ongoing and loyal support for cancer research.


Campaign supporters (what an amazing list of super generous organisations!):

ARI Registry Services
Australian Radio Network
Bang PR
Children’s Medical Research Institute
Commercial Radio Australia
Fairfax Media
Fairfax Radio
Foxtel
Hoyts Cinema
JC Decaux
King & Wood Mallesons
M&C Saatchi
Nine Network
Ooh! Media
Seven Network
Special Broadcasting Service (SBS)
Sticky Digital

Promising step forward for triple negative breast cancer treatment

Triple Negative Breast CancerCancer researchers in the UK have linked an overactive gene to a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer called “triple negative” breast cancer.

The team, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, identified the gene called BCL11A as especially active in triple negative breast cancer, raising hope for those affected by this cancer type.

Prognosis for triple negative cancers is generally poorer than for other forms as there is limited knowledge of the distinct genetic properties of the disease, making the development of new treatments difficult.

Generally, therapies used in treating other breast cancer types, like tamoxifen, do not work on this type of cancer because triple negative tumour cells lack three of the different ‘receptor’ molecules that are targeted by the treatments.

Most triple-negative breast cancer tumours are of a genetic type called ‘basal-like’. BCL11A was found to be overactive in tumour samples from around eight in 10 patients with the ‘basal-like’ disease.

Dr Pentao Liu, senior author on the study, said BCL11A activity stood out as being particularly active in samples from triple negative cancers.

Dr Walid Khaled, co-author on the study said, “Our studies in human cells clearly marked BCL11A as a novel driver for triple-negative breast cancers.”

This discovery builds on researchers’ work to develop a broader understanding of breast cancer which will inform clinical decisions, treatment choices and finding new therapies.

For more information, please click here.

Six more ovarian cancer risk genes found

Close-up of microscopeQIMR Berghofer and the University of Cambridge have led an international study, finding six new gene regions which increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. The number of ovarian cancer risk susceptibility regions identified has therefore increased, from 12 to 18.

Although these risk gene variants, or “typos”, are much more subtle than the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, incorporating them into tests which predict a woman’s ovarian cancer risk would be more precise.

Head of QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer Program, Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench said “Individually, each of these ‘typos’ increases the risk of cancer by a very small amount.”

“However, if a woman carries a large number of these ‘typos’ her risk of developing ovarian cancer may be as high as that conferred by mutations in BRCA1 or 2.”

QIMR Berghofer scientists are now part of an even bigger study which is likely to double the number of gene regions known to increase ovarian cancer risk.

“Once we identify each of these genetic ‘typos’, the next challenge is to find out the way they work – both individually and together,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.

“Understanding how each of these variants works will eventually lead to an understanding how ovarian cancer develops, and how to develop better reduction medications and treatments.”

The ACRF is proud to have provided over $6 million in grants funding to QIMR Berghofer since 2002, for technologies and infrastructure with the power to speed up lifesaving discoveries across many cancer types.

New treatment options possible with bowel cancer discovery

090126_082-300x225Melbourne cancer scientists believe they have found a cause for the onset and acceleration of bowel cancer.

Being the third most common cancer in Australia, this exciting discovery opens up the possibility for new ways to treat bowel cancer, bringing hope to patients suffering from the disease.

Researchers from the prestigious Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre found a two-part failure in bowel cancer cells. Essentially, the mechanisms which stop a cell from multiplying uncontrollably, stop working in bowel cancer cells.

This failure causes the acceleration of the disease and, additionally, the development of resistance to cancer treatments. This two-part failure is known as “chromosomal instability” and is caused by a signalling network in the cell called the Wnt Pathway.

“Previously, in most bowel cancers, we thought this instability built up randomly over time as cancer cells evolved, while a signalling network, called the Wnt pathway, held cells back from chromosome chaos,” Professor Rob Ramsay said.

“Now we have proven this instability begins immediately with the breakdown of the Wnt pathway, which occurs in two steps and sets off an unstoppable acceleration of disease.

“Just as the loss of firstly the handbrake, followed by the secondary loss of a foot brake, both combine to allow a car to career down a hill.”

Chromosomal instability was found in 85 per cent of tumours in people with bowel cancer.

Professor Ramsay says the “double breakdown” in the Wnt pathway sparked complex evolution in the genetic make-up of bowel cancers.

“The dramatic genomic changes cells go through gives the cancer a breadth of opportunities to rapidly evolve, to deceive and outflank the cancer treatments.”

Professor Ramsay said the findings open up potential new treatment possibilities.

“This fundamental new information reaffirms why the Wnt pathway should be a high priority target of new treatment development, and the genetic clues uncovered by our research will help guide the selection of patients for different therapies, some of which are currently available,” he said.

World first brain cancer trial raises hopes for patients and families.

59910457_m1320934-pancreatic_cancer_-300x168A world-first trial will test an experimental brain cancer treatment which targets the surface of tumour cells expressing a cancer protein called EphA3.

The drug has already shown successful results in phase I clinical trials for leukaemia patients, and cancer scientists are now keen to test its effectiveness on solid tumours.

This world-first clinical trial on patients suffering from recurrent Glioblastoma (GBM) resulted from major discoveries by a team of scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and Monash University.

Dr Bryan Day and Dr Brett Stringer, who led the research at QIMR Berghofer, said the study builds on work carried out by the collaborative research team for over more than a decade.

“The protein – EphA3 – was discovered by QIMR Berghofer scientist Professor Andrew Boyd in 1992,” said Dr Day.

Dr Stringer said the upcoming GBM trial would be the first test of the drug against solid tumours, as opposed to blood cancers.

“Unfortunately most new drugs tested for GBM have returned disappointing results and patients have very few treatment options,” he said.

“Once we begin recruiting, this study will have an immediate impact by giving patients access to an innovative treatment which has shown great potential in laboratory testing.”

GBM is the most common primary adult brain cancer and is almost always fatal, killing about 1,000 Australians every year.

Dr Day and Dr Stringer said this trial gives researchers an excellent start to developing a much-needed treatment for patients with aggressive GBM.

“The study will determine how patients tolerate the drug and how their tumours respond,” they said.

“There is also a very important imaging component with brain scans to be performed to detect the borders of the tumours and determine how much of the drug crosses from the blood into the brain to reach the tumour.”

#GivingTuesday – a day Tue give

GivingTuesdayAustralia-Heart

#GivingTuesday is a global charity challenge celebrating and providing opportunities for all of us to give. Charity giving can be equally as rewarding for the giver as it is for the recipient, so on #GivingTuesday we encourage you to jump on the band wagon. It’s like the world will be giving itself a big hug!

What can you do this #GivingTuesday?

Whether you give your Mum a call, give your pet a treat or give your boss a coffee, it doesn’t matter what you give it only matters that you give.

Give yourself a challenge

Why do so many people wait until January 1st to make resolutions? We want you to start early, on December 2nd, by registering for a 2015 charity challenge event. Not daring enough for you? Use #GivingTuesday as a chance to recruit a team to participate and raise money for cancer research with you. Search events here.

What can your workplace do?

Employees

Now is the time to let your employer know about the generous gifts you’ve made to charity this year and ask them to match your giving. With one email, you can double the impact you’ve had in 2014. If you haven’t given as much as you think you could, ask your employer about Workplace Giving. You can make a pre-tax monthly donation to charity through your payroll.

Employers

Share why your company supports Australian cancer research via the company LinkedIn page and intranet with a link to the ACRF donation page, ask your employees for matching submissions, organise a volunteering day or hold a #GivingTuesday party to thank everyone for their superb efforts this year. You could even challenge your employees to support charity by matching $2 for every $1 donated on #GivingTuesday.

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Existing drug for bone disease shows promising anti-cancer properties

imageAn existing drug, currently used to treat patients suffering from osteoporosis and some late-stage bone cancers, has now shown potential to treat other cancers outside of the skeletal system, such as breast cancer.

Several clinical trials, where women with early-stage breast cancer were given this drug, called ‘bisphosphonates’, alongside normal treatment for the disease, have resulted in a ‘survival advantage’ and, in some cases, stopped the cancer from spreading.

A new study by Professor Mike Rogers, Dr Tri Phan and Dr Simon Junankar from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research found, using sophisticated imaging technologies, has revealed more information about how this advantage works.

They found the bisphosphonates attach to tiny calcifications within the tumours.

These calcium-drug combinations are then devoured by ‘macrophages’, immune cells that the cancer hijacks early in its development to conceal its existence.

“We do not yet fully understand how the macrophages revert from being ‘bad cops’ to being ‘good cops’, although it is clear that this immune cell interacts with tumours, and probably changes its function in the presence of bisphosphonates,” said Professor Rogers.

“Our next step will be to analyse the changes that take place in macrophages, so that we can understand their change in function, and effect on cancer cells.”

Professor Rogers explains cancer scientists already know that the drug is well-tolerated in people, providing a “survival advantage” for some patients with certain cancers when taken early in disease development.

“This now provides a rationale for using these drugs in a different, and potentially more effective, way in the clinic,” said Professor Rogers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Blood test could predict risk of non-hereditary breast cancer

bloodtestA simple blood test could soon be made possible to predict those at risk of non-hereditary breast cancer.

Breast cancer can be caused by many factors, including gene mutations which are passed from parents onto their children. For example, the hereditary breast cancer gene, BRCA1, accounts for around 10% of breast cancer cases. The majority of cases however, are caused by factors not yet entirely understood.

But researchers are beginning to make headway. An epigenetic signature has been identified across all women who carry the mutated BRCA1 gene. Strikingly, researchers have found the same signature was discovered in the blood of women without the BRCA1 mutation but who went on to develop breast cancer, making it a potential early marker of women’s cancer in the general population.

Cancer scientists now understand that mutations within genes are not the only contributors to the development of disease. The arrangement and expression of our genes has a major impact, and this is overseen by the process of epigenetics.

One of the most studied epigenetic mechanisms is a process called DNA methylation, which was the focus of this particular study.

Researchers looked at the DNA methylation signature in the blood of women both with and without BRCA1 mutations. When the signature was applied to the samples from both of these groups, the women who had developed non-hereditary cancers were found to have the same DNA methylation signature as those with the hereditary gene.

Professor Martin Widschwendter, the study’s lead author and head of the UCL Department of Women’s Cancer, says: “We identified an epigenetic signature in women with a mutated BRCA1 gene that was linked to increased cancer risk and lower survival rates. Surprisingly, we found the same signature in large cohorts of women without the BRCA1 mutation and it was able to predict breast cancer risk several years before diagnosis.”

Further research is required to find out whether this epigenetic signature is just an indicator of breast cancer risk or is involved in the actual development of breast cancer. Work is now also being undertaken to use these findings in clinical trials.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Potential early intervention for those susceptible to pancreatic cancer

Biankin-Andrew-3Australian clinical researchers have found that early detection may be possible for people who are genetically susceptible to pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer has been found to be a very slow growing disease in the early stages, taking between 10 and 20 years to develop. A very “broad window” therefore exists for intervention, provided certain genetic factors are detected early.

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research’s Dr Jeremy Humphris and Professor Andrew Biankin (Professor Biankin is also Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow), analysed medical histories and tumour samples taken from 766 pancreatic cancer patients, operated on between 1994 and 2012. They found that roughly 9% of these patients had a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with pancreatic cancer.

Patients with a close relative who developed pancreatic cancer were more likely to develop cancer in their life-time and 71 per cent of children whose parents had pancreatic cancer were found to have developed the same cancer but 10 years earlier than the parent’s own diagnosis age (known as ‘anticipation’).

These genetic factors, as well as the knowledge that the greatest known risk factors are cigarette smoking, diabetes, obesity and, to a lesser extent, alcohol consumption should make it possible for scientists and GPs to identify novel susceptibility genes, and at the same time design risk management and screening programs for the genetically susceptible group.

“Our findings suggest that when we’re assessing someone, it’s important to understand the family history – not just of pancreatic cancer, but other malignancies too,” said Dr Humphris.

“Smoking led to a much earlier onset of disease, so obviously you would counsel against smoking, especially in those who are genetically susceptible.”

Pancreatic cancer is a lethal disease with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. This very low survival rate is generally due to the fact that diagnosis comes only after the disease is advanced or has spread – making a case for early detection methods.

Professor Biankin said “a better understanding of the clinical features of genetically at-risk individuals will help us identify susceptibility genes as well as those who might benefit from genetic counselling and screening for detection of early disease”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Millions in private funding set for top cancer scientists in Australia

cancer scientistEvery year the Australian Cancer Research Foundation provides multi-million dollar grants to support research projects of the highest calibre in Australia.

Last week the ACRF Research Advisory Committee met with the six shortlisted applicants to hear more about their proposed projects for research funding. Chaired by Prof. Ian Fraser AC, the Committee is made up of 14 esteemed cancer scientists.

“There has been a particular interest this year in new technology for looking for molecules which fingerprint cancer cells, and for the genetic mistakes that fingerprint cancer cells,” said Prof. Frazer, following the grant interviews.

This year Committee member, A/Prof. Connie Trimble from John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA, travelled to Australia to join our panel of judges over the two day interview process.  Her experience and perspective on the international research stage will ensure that the successful ACRF grant recipients represent the cutting-edge of world research.

The shortlisted research groups, which were selected based on their significant potential to make an impact on cancer diagnosis, treatment and/or cure, represent a need for almost $25.M in funding.

The six shortlisted applicants are from all over Australia, covering research into all cancers. These are:

  1. Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, VIC
    Develop a purpose-built facility specialising in developing new targeted therapies for all types of cancer.
  2. Monash Institute of Medical Research – Prince Henry Hospital, Melbourne, VIC
    Expansion of an existing ACRF centre to tackle issues such as early detection, tumour diversity and drug resistance.
  3. University of Queensland Centre for Advanced Imaging, Brisbane, QLD
    A facility specialising in the development and validation of novel molecular imaging agents for cancer.
  4. Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney, NSW
    Create an integrated and dedicated child cancer precision medicine centre, focused on delivering personalised therapies for Australian children at high risk of treatment failure.
  5. Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW
    Build a space housing super-computer resources for a team of bioinformatics scientists, working towards the analysis of biological changes due to cancer treatment and disease progression.
  6. Sydney University Central Clinical School, Sydney, NSW
    Develop an ACRF imaging centre which will pioneer targeted radiotherapy and provide an opportunity for academia, medicine, industry and government to collaborate on the science and clinical practice of cancer treatment.

The recipients of the 2014 grants will be announced in November. If you would like to read more about our grants process or to find out our past grants recipients please click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Will Ashley rides 3,200km in solo adventure for cancer research.

Will AshleyWe first met Will Ashley when, at the age of 16, he cycled from Coffs Harbour to Sydney with his best mate in tribute to a very special breast cancer survivor, Will’s mum.

The next year, Will rallied two other adventurers, including his brother Jo, to kayak over 2000Km down the Murray River and raise even more funds for world-class cancer research in Australia. We thought the amazing spirit and generosity of Will Ashley must have no end. And we were right:

Just last week, Will completed yet another epic fitness challenge in support of the ACRF.

At the beginning of September, he rode off on his bike from the Daly Waters Pub in the Northern Territory. In front of him stretched a four week solo journey, which would bring him back his home in Coffs Harbour, NSW.

The days were hot, long and often frustrating – juggling knee injuries, much-needed rest days, and stiflingly hot weather. But Will says the challenge was worth it.

“It was a wonderful ride,” he said.

“Especially North West Queensland where the country was so barren.

“There were a few hiccups. I injured my knee and had to hitch a ride to a physio, but all in all it was an awesome experience.”

At night Will would set up camp on park benches or on a beach and then as dawn broke he’d jump back on his bike and start all over again.

Each day Will pedalled for about 10 to 12 hours, and in the final stretch from Ballina to Coffs Harbour he also had traffic to dodge.

Will planned to raise $10,000 for cancer research in the lead up to, and during, his 3,200km trip. In addition to this most generous goal, Will also stopped in at schools along the way to talk to the students about goal-setting, and healthy lifestyles. Will wanted to show them anything is possible if they want to try and make a difference.

Will arrived back in Coffs Harbour last week, riding into his old school hall at Bishop Druitt College, packed full of students, teachers and family who were eager to congratulate him.

We’d like to thank Will for this amazing fundraiser. His dedication and generosity is truly humbling and his efforts in raising $10,000 by himself is truly an inspiration.

If you would like to find out more about Wills ride you can read about it here. Will also kept a video blog of each of his days – you can watch them here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Deb want’s to challenge you to Live A Little!

fight cancerWe have some pretty amazing supporters here at the Australian Cancer Research Foundation! Deb McNaughton, who has already raised $8,500 for cancer research, has begun a social challenge for 2014 called “Live a Little”.

After one week, Deb has already raised over $2,000 towards her $5,000 goal.

The basic idea around the “Live a Little” 2014 challenge is to do something you wouldn’t usually do; something out of the ordinary.

Deb explains that people who want to take part in the challenge can make it extreme or simple, crazy or kind, scary or funny, ridiculous or revolting. Most of all…they need to MAKE IT COUNT!

If you’re interested in living a little and getting involved in the “Live a Little 2014 Challenge” here’s what you can do:

  • Upload a photo/video of you (individual or group) ‘living a little’ to Facebook or Instagram.
  • Remember to tag with #livealittle
  • Donate to: http://give.everydayhero.com/au/live-a-little
  • Challenge/nominate as many friends as you like to make a difference and LIVE A LITTLE – because you can!

Get on board with the Live a Little challenge now and help fight cancer. A big thank you to Deb for creating this great fundraising challenge![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Team ACRF takes on Blackmores Sydney Running Festival

cancer fun runMore than 34,000 runners and walkers flooded over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge on Sunday 21 September to take on the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival events.

The ACRF was humbled that 400 of those people were participating in support of cancer research. They were running in memory or support of loved ones, and tackling the challenge of either the full or half marathons or enjoying the atmosphere and scenery of the shorter bridge and family funs.

Together, our amazing supporters have generated over $40,000 for cancer research in Australia at the Blackmores event and we are so very grateful for the dedication and massive support we have received!

Our highest fundraisers for the event included Nikki and Joey, who ran for cancer research in memory of a very close friend, Sarah. Sarah recently passed away from a rare type of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma .

The girls set themselves the gruelling challenge of running the half-marathon course in Sarah’s memory. Not only did they smash through the course but they also smashed their fundraising target, raising over an incredible $11,000!

Nikki and Joey represent so many wonderful runners, each of whom had an emotional reason to go the extra mile. We thank them so very much for their dedication and support. We’re incredibly humbled.

Along with our amazing runners we also had 15 volunteers who arrived at the crack of dawn to help the event run by setting-up and manning the drinks station.

We’d like to send a big thank you to our volunteers, including our teams from the UNSW Volunteer Army and corporate supporters Excelian, Makinson d’Apice and Leighton.

We hope you had a memorable and most enjoyable day![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cancer scientists can now explain a third of the inherited risk of prostate cancer

tao-research-mainAn exciting discovery during a major international study has revealed cancer scientists can now identify men at a 6-fold increased risk of prostate cancer.

Cancer scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, together with researchers in Cambridge, and California found 23 new genetic variants associated with increased risk of the disease.

The study means that scientists can now explain 33% of the inherited origins of prostate cancer in European men and will contribute to determining whether these genetic markers can improve on other tests for the disease.

Professor Ros Eeles, Professor of Oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said, “Our study tells us more about the effect of the genetic hand that men are dealt on their risk of prostate cancer.

“We know that there are a few major genes that are rare and significantly affect prostate cancer risk, but what we are now learning is that there are many other common genetic variants that individually have only a small effect on risk, but collectively can be very important.”

They are now investigating whether genetic testing could help diagnose more men at risk of developing dangerous forms of prostate cancer that need urgent treatment – something that the current test is unable to determine.

“Building on previous research, this study gives a more complete list of these factors, bringing us closer to knowing who may need screening for prostate cancer and which men may benefit from early treatment. More work needs to be done, but identifying these genetic factors will allow us to better understand the disease and maybe even develop new treatments,” said Professor Eeles.

In Australia, 22,000 men die from cancer every year and one in two Australian men will get cancer in their lifetime – that’s 20% more men than women who will be touched by this terrible disease.

This September is Blue September, an annual campaign that encourages all Australians to face up to cancer in men and promotes research into men’s cancers.

If you are able to make a donation to men’s cancer research this September and help speed up research discoveries like this, we thank you so very much.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation partners with SAHMRI in the fight against cancer

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has awarded the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) $1.8 million in funding, acknowledging the promising future of cancer research in Australia.

SAHMRI Research

The funding from the ACRF will be used to establish the ACRF Innovative Cancer Imaging and Therapeutics Facility housed at SAHMRI and within a new health and biomedical precinct in Adelaide that will enable the Institute’s researchers, and their collaborators, to rapidly translate basic biomedical research discoveries to novel cancer therapies.

This facility will provide cancer researchers with the tools necessary to perform cutting-edge research and will build cancer research capacity across South Australia.

SAHMRI’s Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh said the Institute is thrilled with the announcement.

“We are so honoured to receive this generous award from the ACRF.  We have all been touched by cancer in some shape or form, and know its devastating effects. This award will enable us to seek better treatments, cures and even ways to prevent this disease in its many manifestations.

“The ACRF Innovative Cancer Imaging and Therapeutics Facility will facilitate groundbreaking cancer research by providing investigators with access to biomedical imaging technologies, such as advanced flow cytometry, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).

“This facility will play a pivotal role in translating biomedical discoveries to therapies that will directly impact the health and survival of cancer patients, and we are extremely grateful to the ACRF for their support and fantastic work.”

The ACRF has been awarding major grants in excess of $1 million and up to $5 million, for building and updating research centres and laboratories, purchasing the latest technology and equipment and the establishment of national facilities in Australia, since its inception in 1984.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

World No Tobacco Day

134128418-Quit-smoking_51ae76fa8dbbb-300x199Every 31st of May, The World Health Organisation (WHO) marks World No Tobacco Day, to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use, and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are non-smokers succumbing to second-hand smoke.

Lung cancer, which can be associated with smoking tobacco, is one of the most common causes of cancer death for men and women in Australia.

Continue reading “World No Tobacco Day”

ACRF supporters Run For A Reason and raise over $70,000!

From the serious runners to The Incredible Hulk, thousands of runners hit the pavement to take part in the fifth annual HBF Run For A Reason in Perth on Sunday.

A record number of people took part with nearly 30,000 runners – some in costume, others decked out in t-shirts displaying the faces or names of loved ones they were running for – taking on the 4km and 12km courses.

The ACRF was lucky enough to have 104 runners support cancer research in Australia, with team ACRF raising over $70,000! We would like to send a big thank you to all of our fundraisers for all their hard work and fundraising efforts!

Continue reading “ACRF supporters Run For A Reason and raise over $70,000!”

ACRF Canberra supporters tour the John Curtin School of Medical Research

Last week our valued supporters in Canberra attended an afternoon tour of the esteemed John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR).

Our 27 guests were treated to a lovely afternoon tea, where they heard from respected ACRF board member, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC (ret’d) as well as head of the Cancer and Vascular Biology Group, at JCSMR, and 2014 Canberra Citizen of the Year, Professor Chris Parish.

Our supporters were then split into two groups and taken on a tour around the John Curtin School of Medical Research.

Continue reading “ACRF Canberra supporters tour the John Curtin School of Medical Research”

Skin Cancer Prevention – Promising Results

A study by researchers at Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has revealed some very promising statistics about one of Australia’s most deadly cancers – Melanoma.

With an estimated 12,000 people diagnosed with melanoma in 2012 it is Australia’s third most common cancer type.

The study, which analysed melanoma cases among 15 to 24 year olds in Queensland from 1982 to 2010, has shown there has been a five per cent a year decline among teenagers and young adults developing the disease from the mid-1990s to 2010.

Additionally, for people aged 20 to 24, the rate has fallen from 25 cases per 100,000 in 1996 to 14 per 100,000 in 2010.

Continue reading “Skin Cancer Prevention – Promising Results”

ACRF welcomes distinguished scientist and businessman, Dr. Ian Brown, as new CEO

Today we are very excited to announce the appointment of distinguished scientist and businessman, Dr Ian Brown, as the new leader of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Dr Brown will succeed long-serving CEO David Brettell who retires from ACRF on 10 July 2014.

Dr. Brown was the former CEO and Managing Director of the highly successful Clover Corporation, which focused on bio-delivery systems for nutritionally important ingredients and which is publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Chairman of the ACRF, Mr. Tom Dery said, “Dr. Brown comes to us with considerable international experience.  His business acumen will help take ACRF to another level and we’re tremendously excited by the potential to further accelerate our contribution to world-class cancer research. We look forward to building on our crucial role in funding scientific breakthroughs of the future”

Continue reading “ACRF welcomes distinguished scientist and businessman, Dr. Ian Brown, as new CEO”

New leader for top Australian cancer research funding body

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has appointed distinguished scientist and businessman Dr. Ian Brown as its new Chief Executive.

ACRF’s research grants, which will top the $100 million mark this year, have provided Australia’s best cancer scientists with the technologies, equipment and infrastructure needed to speed up discoveries and stay at the forefront of medical research.

ACRF Chairman Tom Dery said the foundation was thrilled to welcome Dr Brown who is currently an adjunct professor at Flinders University in Adelaide and special visiting professor at the University of Colorado in the US.

Continue reading “New leader for top Australian cancer research funding body”

ACRF hosts successful Corporate Social Responsibility breakfast event!

It’s all about creating shared value amongst stakeholders.

At least that was the topic of today’s successful Corporate Social Responsibility breakfast event with almost 50 corporate attendees looking forward to listening to this hot-topic discussion.

The ACRF was lucky enough to secure Deloitte’s Non-for-profit special group National Director, Tharani Jegatheeswaran, as the keynote speaker; as well as a panel discussion of leaders in the field of corporate philanthropy, including: Wendy Mason, Head of the Commonwealth Bank Foundation, Commonwealth Bank, Ro Coroneos, Manager, Community and Social Strategy, Barangaroo South, Lend Lease, Chris Drayton, Partner, Makinson & d’Apice Lawyers.

Continue reading “ACRF hosts successful Corporate Social Responsibility breakfast event!”

Promising results in world-first trials for aggressive brain cancer treatment

A major breakthrough in the treatment of aggressive brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), using immunology has been made by scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant brain cancer, diagnosed in about 800 Australians every year with, unfortunately very low five year survival rates.

The research used immunology to attack the cancer, and found that of the study participants lived much longer than the six-month prognosis normally given to a patient with recurrent GBM. Some patients showed no signs of disease progression at all.

Continue reading “Promising results in world-first trials for aggressive brain cancer treatment”

Have a Cuppa for Cancer and help fund research into prevention, diagnosis and cures!

This month, why not get a group together for a morning (or afternoon) tea party and support world-class cancer research?

With cancer being labelled the world’s number one killer – affecting people of all ages and backgrounds, the ACRF is often approached by community groups who wish to raise funds for cancer research.

We are humbled and motivated by this dedication and so we’ve thought of a fun and inspirational way you and your community group can join in the fight against all cancers – and the Cuppa for Cancer event was born!

Continue reading “Have a Cuppa for Cancer and help fund research into prevention, diagnosis and cures!”

Streetsmart Marketing helps “Secure the future” for cancer research in Australia!

Strength in Numbers“Secure the Future” was a three day super-conference that took place in February in Sydney and Brisbane. In a massive act of generosity, the event organisers donated the cost of the base ticketing price to world-class cancer research in Australia!

Mal Emery, CEO of Streetsmart Marketing and Co-Founder of “StreetSmart Business School” chose the Australian Cancer Research Foundation as the beneficiary of this event and has raised an incredible $70,000 through ticket sales, to help in the fight against cancer.

Continue reading “Streetsmart Marketing helps “Secure the future” for cancer research in Australia!”

Community set to brew a world record for charity

Local beer lovers will be gathering together this Sunday as a potential world record is set to be brewed in Brunswick, Melbourne.

The Thunder Road Brewing Company will be holding its third community day this Sunday, May 4 and this time will have a charity brew to raise money for the Australian Cancer Research ­Foundation.

Anyone who wants to try their hand as a brewer, members of the community and all-round beer lovers can come along on the day and, for a $10 donation, help with tasks including grinding the malt, adding hops and temperature control.

Continue reading “Community set to brew a world record for charity”

Powerful predictor discovered for aggressive breast cancers will ensure more effective treatment

A new, more powerful predictor for aggressive breast cancers, discovered by Dr Fares Al-Ejeh at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, will give women a more accurate prognosis and ensure they are receiving the most effective treatment for their breast-cancer type.

Every woman’s breast cancer has its own individual gene fingerprint – a specific combination of genes. Dr Al-Ejeh’s research has found new gene “signatures” which can predict likely survival across breast cancer cases.

Continue reading “Powerful predictor discovered for aggressive breast cancers will ensure more effective treatment”

Study reinforces HPV vaccine is saving lives

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Queensland have found young women who received the HPV vaccine are far less likely to develop high-risk abnormalities that can lead to cervical cancer.

They used Queensland Health datasets to show these women had a 46 % lower risk of developing high-grade changes in the cervix, compared with women who had not been vaccinated.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of gynaecological cancer, killing more than 200 Australian women every year.

Continue reading “Study reinforces HPV vaccine is saving lives”

This World Cancer Day we pledge to help debunk the myths!

February 4 is a day where we have the chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving our understanding of cancer: of getting to know the risks and, importantly, overcoming misconceptions about this terrible disease.

World Cancer Day is an international movement held at the same time every year and is an opportunity for the entire world to join together in the fight against cancer.

Continue reading “This World Cancer Day we pledge to help debunk the myths!”

70% of cancer patients have new hope through WEHI discovery

A discovery led by Australian researchers at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) has given new hope to those suffering from certain types of lymphomas as well as other types of blood cancers and some solid tumours.

For these types of cancers, which are driven by a cancer-causing protein, ‘MYC’, Dr Gemma Kelly, Dr Marco Herold, Professor Andreas Strasser and their research team at WEHI have uncovered a promising treatment strategy.

MYC affects up to 70 per cent of human cancers, including many leukaemias and lymphomas. It is responsible for cancerous changes in cells by forcing them into abnormally rapid growth. But the WEHI research team have discovered that MYC activity is co-dependent on another protein, called MCL-1.

Continue reading “70% of cancer patients have new hope through WEHI discovery”

Unprecedented success in trialling new adult leukaemia therapy

A new, potentially life-saving drug has raised new hope for patients in advanced stages of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – one of the most common types of adult leukaemia in Australia.

In many cases this cancer becomes resistant to traditional treatment methods such as chemotherapy. This is because of its high levels of a “pro-survival” protein called BCL-2 that render cancer cells, according to Walter and Eliza Hall Institute haematologist Prof. Andrew Roberts “basically indestructible”.

Continue reading “Unprecedented success in trialling new adult leukaemia therapy”

$8.4 Million in funding for some of the best cancer research innovations in Australia!

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has acknowledged the promising future of cancer research in Australia, announcing $8.4million in grants to progress the work of four of the country’s most innovative research initiatives.

In an exciting first, the $8.4m will be shared between research teams from four separate Australian states. The funding will provide each research team with state-of-the-art technologies and facilities, the scope of which have the potential to make significant discoveries in the understanding and management of cancer.

CEO of the ACRF, David Brettell says “Never before have we so many such world-class proposals for cancer research, with applications for our grants this year totalling almost $50 million.”

Continue reading “$8.4 Million in funding for some of the best cancer research innovations in Australia!”

“Cutting out Cancer” Rodeo helps raise funds for cancer research

Gundagai recently hosted a most successful campdraft rodeo event called “Cutting out cancer”, organised by local, Toni Hart, who is currently battling HER2 Breast Cancer.

Competitors and spectators were invited to wear pink to support the event, with $2 from every entry fee generously donated by the Gundagai Rodeo Club.

Continue reading ““Cutting out Cancer” Rodeo helps raise funds for cancer research”

Millions in funding unveiled for Australia’s best cancer research innovations

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has announced the recipients of their annual Cancer Research Grants, collectively awarding $8.4m towards the newest innovations in Australian cancer research.

In its quest to beat cancer, the ACRF has awarded almost $95m to Australian cancer research institutes, making it the largest private funding body for cancer research in Australia.

Continue reading “Millions in funding unveiled for Australia’s best cancer research innovations”

Cancer research foundation funds new treatment centre

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute has secured a $2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation for a new cancer treatment centre in Brisbane.

The agreement between ACRF and UQDI for the Diamantina Individualised Oncology Care Centre (DIOCC) will mean improved research opportunities and outcomes for cancer patients.

The centre will be based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Translational Research Institute.

Continue reading “Cancer research foundation funds new treatment centre”

VIC sees out our running season with a bang

As our Aussie running season comes to an end, Victoria is celebrating a couple of their last big marathons with the Melbourne Marathon Festival and the City2Sea.

More than 34,000 runners and walkers flooded to Melbourne CBD on October 13 for the Melbourne Marathon Festival, either tackling the challenge of the full or half marathons or enjoying the atmosphere and scenery of the shorter 10km and family runs.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation was humbled to have 17 supporters, running to raising money for cancer research. Together, these dedicated supporters raised over $12,000, every dollar of which will go to Australian researchers to help in their search for the cures.

Continue reading “VIC sees out our running season with a bang”

New therapy in trial minimises side effects for leukaemia patients

Australian researchers are trialing a drug which could bring new hope to people fighting adult leukaemia.

This drug, known as KB004, targets a protein which is only found in cancerous stem cells. It is undetectable on normal cells, so when the therapy is administered, it targets only cancerous cells, minimising side effects.

A team of Australian collaborators from ACRF-funded research institutes, including Dr. Martin Lackmann of Monash University, Melbourne; Dr. Andrew Boyd of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, and Dr. Andrew Scott of Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Melbourne, realised the potential of this protein – called EphA3 – as a drug target some years ago and successfully tested an antibody in their laboratories.

The drug KB004 has since been developed from this antibody, and clinical trials have commenced.

Continue reading “New therapy in trial minimises side effects for leukaemia patients”

Cancer researchers find prostate cancer “Achilles Heel” and move closer to a new treatment

An international group of scientists from Australia and Canada are getting closer to a new treatment for prostate cancer that works by starving tumours of an essential nutrient.

Dr Jeff Holst from Sydney’s Centenary Institute, and his colleagues from Adelaide, Brisbane and Vancouver have shown they can slow the growth of prostate cancer by stopping the protein ‘leucine’ from being pumped into tumour cells.

Leucine is involved in cell division and making proteins. It ‘feeds’ cell growth by being pumped through ‘protein pumps’ on the surface of our cells.

In 2011, Dr Holst and his colleagues showed that prostate cancer cells have more ‘protein pumps’ on their surface compared with normal cells. These pumps are allowing the cancer cell to take in more leucine, thereby stimulating overactive cell division.

Continue reading “Cancer researchers find prostate cancer “Achilles Heel” and move closer to a new treatment”

Top Australian researchers bid for ACRF grants

Millions of dollars in ACRF funding will soon be awarded to Australia’s top cancer research teams, with this week heralding our final stage of assessments.

Today and tomorrow, lead researchers from five shortlisted institutes will meet with the ACRF’s esteemed Advisory Committee (which is chaired by Professor Ian Frazer AC) for the final interviews which will ultimately determine the successful research teams.

Shortlisted applicants include two institutes from Sydney: the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, and the Children’s Medical Research Institute, as well as the QIMR Berghofer Cancer Research Institute in Brisbane, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide, and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

Continue reading “Top Australian researchers bid for ACRF grants”

Make regular charity donations and become a Partner in the Cure!

Aussies are renowned for being very generous and those who decide to make regular charity donations to cancer research are part of a VIP group of ACRF supporters known as “Partners in the Cure”.

Their generous monthly donation allows us to plan for a stable and supportive future for some of the best cancer researchers in Australia. These regular charity donations are helping us to fight cancer for patients (and their families) of this generation and the next.

Our Partners in the Cure are part of the ACRF family and many have decided to join our cause by providing their monthly donations in memory of a loved one they have lost.

Continue reading “Make regular charity donations and become a Partner in the Cure!”

Aussie researchers find genetic cause to the most common form of childhood cancer

Australian researchers have uncovered the first ever genetic marker specific to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer.

Cancer scientists at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) and Sydney Children’s Hospital, along with a worldwide team of researchers, discovered the genetic link by studying families in which multiple cases of ALL have been diagnosed.

Dr David Ziegler, Clinical Research Fellow at CCIA, paediatric oncologist at Sydney Children’s Hospital and lead Australian author of the research paper said, “Leukaemia cells often contain many different genetic mutations, making it difficult to detect which ones actually cause the leukaemia.”

Continue reading “Aussie researchers find genetic cause to the most common form of childhood cancer”

Canberra Cancerians roll out the Red Carpet for cancer research

One of the most prestigious events on the Canberra social calendar, the Canberra Cancerians Gala Dinner, has dazzled guests with its most glamorous offering to date.

Renowned as one of the most successful fundraising groups for cancer research in Australia, the Canberra Cancerians are an incredible group of volunteers who have raised more than $3.2 million for the ACRF.

They launched their first ball in 1987 and, very quickly, the event blossomed into one of the most sought-after events on Canberra’s social calendar.

This year’s function was an elegant red carpet affair, with a black and white theme. The committee took a different approach, compared with previous years, limiting ticket numbers and raising the stakes. And the event certainly did not disappoint.

Continue reading “Canberra Cancerians roll out the Red Carpet for cancer research”

PepsiCo ‘Can Do’ dinner a fantastic success!

PepsiCo staff recently came together again for their annual trivia fundraising night for cancer research – an event which was, this year, called the “Can Do Dinner”.

The trivia night marked the end of a whole month of fundraising, in which PepsiCo asked their staff: “What can you do to support cancer research”? They rallied around a number of internal activities, including a team effort in the fearsome Tough Bloke challenge.

Continue reading “PepsiCo ‘Can Do’ dinner a fantastic success!”

Rosebank College visits CCIA to learn how we are helping to fight cancer

In celebration of National Science Week, we recently welcomed the year 11 Rosebank Biology class to the ACRF Drug Discovery Lab at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA).

This educational tour allowed the students to get up-close with the cutting-edge technologies used inside a real laboratory, while meeting some of Australia’s best cancer scientists who are making amazing progress in the fight against children’s cancers.

The day started off with a very insightful presentation by Dr Eddy Pasquier who discussed his expertise and passion for cancer research, especially in the field of Neuroblastoma.

Continue reading “Rosebank College visits CCIA to learn how we are helping to fight cancer”

Skyhigh fundraisers Jump! for the cures

Early in the morning on Saturday 24 August eleven extremely brave ACRF supporters took the biggest leap of faith – jumping out of a plane at 14,000ft for cancer research!

The skydive over the beautiful beach at North Wollongong was the climax of several months of fundraising (not to mention nerves!), with each ACRF supporter pledging to raise $1,700 for their jump.

Together, our 11 ‘Jump! for Cancer Research’ participants went above and beyond, raising more than $34,000 for world-class cancer research, a cause which is very close to their hearts.

Continue reading “Skyhigh fundraisers Jump! for the cures”

From trash to treasure: Junk DNA and its role in Cell Development

97% of human DNA that was previously considered ‘Junk’ could hold the key to finding new therapies for cancer, according to new research published in the prestigious ‘Cell’ journal.

Junk DNA is characterised by genes which don’t encode proteins, and it has long been overlooked in medical research because of this reason (proteins have been considered the most important biochemical component of cells).

However, using the latest gene sequencing techniques and analysis, a team led by Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital’s Professor John Rasko AO, together with Centenary’s Head of Bioinformatics Dr William Ritchie, have shown that particular white blood cells do use Junk DNA to regulate a group of genes that controls cell shape and function.

Continue reading “From trash to treasure: Junk DNA and its role in Cell Development”

Millions in private funding for top cancer research projects in Australia

Five of the best cancer research projects in the world stand to receive millions of dollars in funding,  following the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s announcement today of its  shortlist for 2013 research grants.

From twelve research proposals, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has shortlisted five for further assessment as a result of the world-class standard of proposed works, and the significant potential for this research to achieve major breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure.

Continue reading “Millions in private funding for top cancer research projects in Australia”

Our shortlist of the most innovative cancer research projects in Australia

The ACRF is very excited with the quality of the five shortlisted applications for our grants in 2013. Some of the very best researchers in the world feature in these applications.

These final five applications represent a need for more than $20 million in advanced technologies and facilities. They cover many types of cancer, not just one or two.

Our highly esteemed Medical Research Advisory Committee selected these particular projects for further review on two grounds – the world-class standard of the proposed research, and the potential to achieve major breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure.

That committee, led by Professor Ian Frazer, will now, through a detailed interview process,  recommend to our Board the best of the best for ACRF funding. The final awardees will be publicly announced on 13 November this year.

Every dollar we receive in donations this year will go to research that has the power to beat cancer. Please peruse the below, to find out where ACRF donations could be making a difference very soon.

Continue reading “Our shortlist of the most innovative cancer research projects in Australia”

Two new ACRF facilities in Melbourne will help fast-track discoveries

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation has opened two new world-class cancer research facilities in Melbourne; the new ACRF Rational Drug Discovery Centre at St Vincent’s Institute (SVI) and a new Cancer Imaging Facility at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

These centres represent $4 million in Australian Cancer Research Foundation funding that would not have been made possible without the support of our amazing donors.

The potential for ground breaking discoveries within these world-class facilities is extremely exciting. Each of them houses the latest in advanced drug screening and imaging technologies, promising to find new treatment targets and therapeutic options faster than ever before.

Please find details about each cancer research facility below.

Continue reading “Two new ACRF facilities in Melbourne will help fast-track discoveries”

Australia’s best researchers request $49M from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, as the government commits to a boost in cancer care.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation is proud to have received 13 world-class cancer research grant applications after submissions for 2013 closed last Friday.

The applications represent a need for $49 million in seed-funding for cutting-edge technologies and facilities, supporting the development of collaborative, innovative cancer research initiatives.

Every year, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation awards up to $10 million in cancer research funding. But this response to our grants shows just how important it is for us to continue fundraising and building the profile of research in Australia.

We received five applications from researchers in NSW, four from Victoria, three from Queensland and one from South Australia – it’s fantastic to see the research expertise within so many States represented in this mix.

Continue reading “Australia’s best researchers request $49M from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, as the government commits to a boost in cancer care.”

Vaccine decreases pre-cancerous symptoms in Aussie women by 93%

Researchers have reported an incredible 93% drop in genital wart diagnoses (symptoms of the human papillomavirus) in young women who have received the HPV, or cervical cancer, vaccine.

The vaccine, co-created by Professor Ian Frazer AC (whose research was supported by an early ACRF seed-funding grant), became available for Australian girls in 2007.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of NSW and the University of Melbourne together with both the Sydney and Melbourne Centres of Sexual Health, looked at the medical data of 85,770 patients during pre-vaccination period (2004-2007) compared to the vaccination period (2007-2011). Continue reading “Vaccine decreases pre-cancerous symptoms in Aussie women by 93%”

Triple-Negative Breast cancer stopped in its tracks with new treatment trial

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research have run early studies of a new combination of treatments for breast cancer, with 100% success rate.

The treatment targets late-stage triple negative breast cancers, for which the average survival rate is only 12 months. This type of cancer is most common in young women and accounts for approximately 20% of breast cancer cases in Australia.

Unlike other cancer cells, triple negative breast cancers don’t have any of the three usual surface receptors, which would normally be the target of treatment.

But this latest treatment trial shows that targeting radiation specifically to an overload of proteins (known as EGFR) together with a dramatically reduced dose of chemotherapy is effective in stopping both the cancer growth, and its recurrence. Continue reading “Triple-Negative Breast cancer stopped in its tracks with new treatment trial”

ACRF grant rounds open, funding research into all types of cancer

The ACRF is once again inviting world-class research teams and collaborations to apply for between $1.5 and $5 million in ACRF research funding.

Every year we provide major grants to help cutting-edge cancer research institutes develop state-of-the-art facilities, and purchase advanced technologies and equipment that speed up cancer discoveries.

No other private research funding body in Australia provides grants as large as these; and these grants help to fund research in Australia that has the power to make significant breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Continue reading “ACRF grant rounds open, funding research into all types of cancer”

Up to $10 million in cancer research funding available through the Australian Cancer Research Foundation

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has begun accepting applications for their 2013 annual Cancer Research Grant Round.

The ACRF provides major grants between $1.5 and $5 million to develop state-of-the-art, collaborative research centres and purchase advanced technologies and equipment. Grants of this magnitude are not available from any other private funding body in Australia.

Continue reading “Up to $10 million in cancer research funding available through the Australian Cancer Research Foundation”

ACRF grant recipients receive NSW Premier's praise

Researchers from three ACRF-funded cancer research centres have received accolades at the 2012 NSW Premier’s Awards for outstanding cancer research.

Hosted by the Cancer Institute NSW, the awards honour the work of the State’s most innovative and dynamic cancer researchers, and so we congratulate these esteemed scientists:

1. Excellence in Translational Research
Professors Michelle Haber, Glenn Marshall, and Murray Norris – Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) for Medical Research

This team from CCIA (a recipient of two ACRF grants totaling $3.6m) have been acknowledged for their ground-breaking work in testing children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) and improving survival rates. Their minimal residual disease testing (MRD) can predict which children suffering ALL are at the highest risk of relapse on standard therapy, triggering individualised treatment to commence at earlier stages.

Continue reading “ACRF grant recipients receive NSW Premier's praise”

Five of Australia’s best cancer research initiatives in the running for ACRF grants!

The ACRF was thrilled to recently receive 12 applications for our cancer research grants in 2012, representing a need for $41.7 million.

These applications have since been reviewed by our esteemed, independent Medical Research Advisory Committee and a shortlist of five fantastic initiatives has been identified for further assessment.

Each application presents an impressive, visionary project – three of which have been submitted by research centres in Brisbane with one more in each of Sydney and Melbourne.

Each research centre has been invited to submit a follow-up application containing further detail about their research projects, with site visits to be conducted by the Medical Research Advisory Committee in October. The final grant awardees will be announced at our annual Chairman’s Dinner in November 2012.

Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane

The UQ Centre for Clinical Research has applied for funding to purchase one of the first commercially available clinical (human) MRI/PET scanners. This application aims to establish a single site facility for clinical oncology imaging with hybrid molecular imaging technology. Continue reading “Five of Australia’s best cancer research initiatives in the running for ACRF grants!”

ACRF announces its cancer research grants shortlist

ACRF cancer research grantsFive of Australia’s best cancer research initiatives are in the running to receive a multi-million dollar grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation in 2012.

After an extensive review process, the final grant awardees will be announced at the ACRF’s annual Chairman’s Dinner in November. Continue reading “ACRF announces its cancer research grants shortlist”

Funding research with the power to beat cancer!

ACRF cancer research grantsThe ACRF is thrilled to have received 12 applications for world-class cancer research after submissions for ACRF grants in 2012 closed last Friday.

Together, the applications represent a need for $41.7 million in cutting-edge technologies and/or capital works for the development of high-tech facilities and collaborative initiatives. It is a strong indication of how important it is for the ACRF and other bodies to continue funding research that has the potential to make significant break-throughs in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Six applications have been received from Brisbane, with two each in Sydney and Melbourne, and then one more in each of Adelaide and Perth. The scope of works is truly impressive, and it’s fantastic to see the research expertise within so many Australian states represented in this mix. Continue reading “Funding research with the power to beat cancer!”

$8.6 million from ACRF kick-starts leading Australian cancer research projects

Three world-class Australian cancer research projects, for which ACRF grants have previously been awarded, are underway following the start of our payments this week.

The total $8.6 million in funds will ensure Australian scientists are able to work in world-class conditions with the very best equipment, working to speed up the breakthroughs in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

1. $3.1 million to The ACRF Chemical Proteomics Centre for Kinomics, at the Children’s Medical Research Institute at Westmead in Sydney. Kinomics is a new discipline in Australia comprising a very simple, yet rapid, large scale, high-throughput screening process to study the entire kinome – that is, all of the protein kinases which are expressed in a cell at a given point in time. Continue reading “$8.6 million from ACRF kick-starts leading Australian cancer research projects”

The importance of bequests in funding world-class cancer research

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) would like to take the opportunity to comment on recent stories in a number of news publications regarding Gifts in Wills.

The ACRF has long been a recipient of generous bequests from Australian individuals, some of which have entirely funded grants to world-class research centres. For example:

  • $2.4 million awarded to the Western Australian Institute of Medical Research, for the development of a world-class cancer imaging facility. Click here for more on this grant.
  • $3.1 million awarded to the Children’s Cancer Research Institute Australia, to create a comprehensive Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancers. Read more about the CCIA grant here.

Without generous bequests such as these, progress in Australian cancer research would be significantly hindered. A bequest is an incredible legacy that many Australians like to leave behind. Any individual who pledges a bequest to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation is very important to us and, if they so wish, we keep in regular contact with them.

Continue reading “The importance of bequests in funding world-class cancer research”

Cancer research partnership will improve treatments for patients

Cancer Research boost through ACRF fundingNew laboratories funded by ACRF are set to strengthen cancer research for some of the most prevalent cancers in Australia.

ACRF’s recent $2 million grant has allowed the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne to expand and enhance existing research programs into the causes of, and new treatments for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and leukaemia.

In order to do this, the ACRF funding will be directed into two particular cancer research divisions, known as ‘The ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer Division’ and ‘The ACRF Chemical Biology Division’.

“Lung cancer is the greatest cause of cancer-related death in Australians, while breast cancer is a leading cause of mortality in women,” said Professor Geoff Lindeman, joint head of the ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer Division (pictured, middle).

“These are diseases that are very prevalent, and patients need better treatments” he said. “Similarly, more research is needed into ovarian cancer, which is poorly understood and for which the outlook for patients is very poor. We need new treatment strategies, ACRF’s support will help us to do that.”

Continue reading “Cancer research partnership will improve treatments for patients”

Professor Frazer seeks vaccine for skin cancer

Professor Ian FrazerChair of the ACRF Medical Research Advisory committee (and co-creator of the cervical cancer vaccine), Professor Ian Frazer is currently working on a world-first strategy to combat skin cancer.

“This group of cancers (skin cancers)…may be started off by a virus infection – which presents a great opportunity, because the idea of vaccinating to prevent a cancer is enormously appealing,” Professor Frazer said.

Professor Frazer believes some virus types, including the wart virus or HPV, are embedded in the layers of the skin, and they pose a skin cancer risk when people with damaged or weak immune systems are overexposed to the sun. Continue reading “Professor Frazer seeks vaccine for skin cancer”

Promising news for treating aggressive breast cancers

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) have found a new anti-cancer agent called ABT-737 that targets and neutralises Bcl-2 “pro-survival” proteins in cancer cells.

The project was undertaken at WEHI’s world-class cancer centre, which has received significant ACRF funding over the last five years.

This funding allowed researchers to better study the characteristics of proteins from the Bcl-2 family which are found at high levels in up to 70% of breast cancers – including typically aggressive ‘triple negative’ breast cancers – and work to prevent cell death, even in cells that have been damaged by chemotherapy. Continue reading “Promising news for treating aggressive breast cancers”

Two world-class research centres to open in QLD

Mr Tom S DeryI’m thrilled to announce the official openings of two world-class cancer research laboratories in Queensland next Tuesday [19 July, 2011]:

It is a true mark of the superior research being undertaken in the Sunshine State that these laboratories are opening on the same day to guests from all over the country.

In 2007 ACRF provided $2.7 million and $3.2 million respectively in seed funding to establish both of these facilities. Less than four years later, the labs are operating, and more importantly, they are making significant breakthroughs in our understanding of cancer and the ways we can prevent, diagnose, treat and defeat this terrible disease. Continue reading “Two world-class research centres to open in QLD”

The best cancer research in the country shortlisted for ACRF support!

The distinguished ACRF Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) has revealed their short-list of world-class cancer research initiatives to receive up to $10 million in 2011.

With 16 applications to consider, members of the MRAC (led by Fellow of the Royal Society of London and co-creator of the cervical cancer vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer) had a considerable task ahead of them.  But they are very enthusiastic about five particular applicants whose vision for the future of cancer research is truly world-class and worthy of further investigation. Continue reading “The best cancer research in the country shortlisted for ACRF support!”

Breakthrough in lung cancer research

Researchers at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) are using the ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer to enhance a recent breakthrough in lung cancer research.

Every year more than 9,000 Australians are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. It is one of the most lethal forms of cancer. But while looking for ways to treat childhood solid cancer tumours, CCIA found a promising new therapy technique for lung cancer patients in Australia and throughout the world.

Continue reading “Breakthrough in lung cancer research”

Research grant at WAIMR named in memory of the Late Kevin McCusker

The ACRF Board and staff would like to extend their heartfelt condolences to the family of the Late Mr Kevin McCusker, and thank them for supporting his most generous bequest to cancer research.

To honour Mr McCusker’s significant donation to ACRF, a research grant awarded in 2010 has been named in his memory.

Mr McCusker’s donation in his Will will leave a lasting legacy through the provision of a world-class imaging hub for cancer diagnosis and management at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR). The Director of WAIMR, Professor Peter Klinken, is thrilled to support the naming of this $2.4 grant in memory of Mr McCusker.

Continue reading “Research grant at WAIMR named in memory of the Late Kevin McCusker”

Discovery of biomarkers will aid pancreatic cancer patients

Cancer researchers at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research have discovered two ‘biomarkers’ which can indicate the likelihood of patient survival after pancreatic cancer surgery.

Lead investigator of the research, Professor Andrew Biankin, has acknowledged the significant financial contribution of ACRF to the work of his team for this and other cancer research at the Garvan. ACRF has awarded $6.1 million in grants since 2004 to the Garvan Institute.

Continue reading “Discovery of biomarkers will aid pancreatic cancer patients”

Up to $10 million for cancer research

Applications for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF) Research Grants are NOW OPEN.

Applicants may apply for grants between $1.5 million and $3 million.

Our Board of Trustees, advised by our distinguished Medical Research Advisory Committee, invites grant applications from leading cancer scientists and scientific teams in Australia for the funding of:

• Capital Works & Facilities

• National Enterprises Continue reading “Up to $10 million for cancer research”

ACRF to announce 2010 grant recipients

With the final review of the shortlisted applicants for Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF) multi-million dollar grant program, the Foundation is set to announce the 2010 grant recipients in just one week.

All grant applications received by the Foundation are reviewed by the ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) whose members are scientists of the highest national and global repute.

This leading Australian scientific committee make recommendations to the ACRF Board of Trustees after a rigorous review process. Assessment of applications is made by independent expert assessors, as well as an inspection of sites where grants will be applied to fund laboratories and house equipment.

The ACRF will announce the 2010 grant recipients on Thursday 25 November. Continue reading “ACRF to announce 2010 grant recipients”

Cancer research grant applications increase in 2010

Cancer research grant applications hit new heights

Proving once again its vital role in providing much needed funding for cancer research comes news of an increase in applications for the ACRF’s annual round of grants.

This year 13 of Australia’s leading medical research facilities have sought support from the ACRF for planned future operations, requesting millions of dollars each for new laboratories and equipment to further progress their cancer research.

This year’s intake included five applications from Queensland, four from Victoria, three from News South Wales, and one from Western Australia, totalling $38 million. Continue reading “Cancer research grant applications increase in 2010”

Up to $5 million for cancer research

Applications for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF) Research Grants are now closed.

Applicants may apply for grants between $1.5 million and $5 million.

The Board of Trustees of the ACRF, advised by our distinguished Medical Research Advisory Committee, invites grant applications from leading scientists and scientific teams for cancer research in Australia in the areas of:

  • Capital Works & Facilities
  • National Enterprises

Continue reading “Up to $5 million for cancer research”

Big dollars for cancer research despite downturn

For twenty-five years the Australian Cancer Research Foundation has been funding world class cancer research right here in Australia. We have awarded, nationally, grants totalling $55 million for research into all forms of cancer. 2009 will be no different.

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees, advised by the ACRF’s distinguished Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC), is inviting grant applications from leading scientists for cancer research in Australia in the areas of:

  • Capital Works & Facilities
  • National Enterprises

Applications for seed funding for ambitious cancer research projects or programs involving multi-disciplinary teams or collaborations, together with evidence of the translational impacts of the research for patients, will be given favourable consideration. The research should meet a criteria of excellence by world class standards.

Click here for the New 2009 Cancer Research Grants media release and comment from Professor Ian Frazer, Chair of the Foundation’s MRAC.

First stage application closing date: Friday 8 May 2009