New ACT drug discovery platform

img_1574Today, Australian National University (ANU), the ACT Minister for Health and Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) will launch a new robotic system to fast-track the development of new drugs to fight cancer and other diseases.

Projects using this platform will also help to screen existing drugs and novel compounds to identify if they are effective alone or in combinational therapies on cancer cells.

This initiative was made possible in part by an ACRF grant of $2 million, awarded in 2015, to provide the equipment required to screen native Australian plants for anti-cancer properties.

Professor Ian Brown, CEO of Australian Cancer Research Foundation says “ACRF is a private foundation supported by community members who are interested in advancing cancer research. It’s inspiring to see researchers at ANU push cancer research forward with this funding and turn it into tangible treatments that future patients will benefit from.”

The High-Throughput Robotic Target and Drug Discovery Screening Platform at the ACRF Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics is the first technology of its kind in the ACT.

The specialised robotics and precision instruments will enable researchers to test thousands of possible drug compounds against hundreds of disease cells, to find the best possible treatment for patients.

ACT Centenary Chair of Cancer Research Professor Ross Hannan said the new technology would increase research collaboration and lead to more rapid drug discoveries in the fight against cancer and many other diseases.

“This is an exciting time for research collaboration across the ACT. The multi-million dollar equipment will cut screening times from years to months,” Professor Hannan, Head of the Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at ANU said.

Until now, researchers in the ACT needed to travel to Sydney or Melbourne to use similar machines. They would also need to stay for months while the testing was done.

Professor Hannan said the technology could give new hope to patients with diseases that have failed all standard therapies and who have no other options.

“We now have the potential to repurpose drugs, testing against more than 4,000 drugs in the FDA drug library have been approved for use in humans to treat disease,” he said.

Professor Hannan said that in the case of cancer, researchers will be able to take bone marrow and tumour cells, grow them in culture, and screen every known compound currently approved for use in humans against the cell lines to see if one could be used to treat the patient.

“In one to two weeks we could identify existing drugs, repurpose them for new treatments, and rapidly set up trials,” he said.
The Target and Drug Discovery Platform has been set up at JCSMR with the generous support of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and ACT Health.

Rosie’s story: Why I support cancer research

b846d8_067ec229e34b4b7c809d5e07242a14fe“It was 2007 and I was enjoying retirement after 30 years in nursing. But I had been experiencing stomach pain and weight loss for a few months. I’d ignored my friend’s continued pleas to see a doctor. Even though I knew there was a problem, I was in denial.

I finally had a gastroscopy procedure which confirmed I had stomach cancer. The first words that came out of my mouth were ‘How long have I got?’ and I remember feeling calm. My husband Jeff and I immediately broke the news to our children, both of whom were living overseas. Without delay, they flew home to be by my side and also support their father.

Over the next few weeks, I went through many different tests. A biopsy from my stomach showed it was a “rare lymphoid tissue lymphoma” and could be treated by antibiotics and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, a few weeks later another gastroscopy revealed the cancer was unaffected by antibiotics and it had spread through my stomach and developed into a high-grade lymphoma. The next move was a CAT scan to map out my stomach. I had to be given four minuscule tattoos as reference markers for my radiation treatment and I couldn’t wait to tell my son-in-law, who has a large tattoo on his arm, that now I had tattoos too!

It was humour that often helped me get through each day. It was a frightening time but I was so hell-bent on fighting for my survival. It’s amazing how the body and mind can cope through such a nightmare.

In early March, I started four weeks of daily radiation treatments. The treatments were successful and I was in remission until late June when I found a lump on the left side of my neck. A biopsy confirmed it was an aggressive type of cancer known as ‘diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.’ Surgery could only remove part of the node as it had adhered to my jugular vein so I began chemotherapy in August to help treat it. It was a particularly daunting time. I was nauseous, lost my sense of smell and taste and developed blisters in my mouth. I also became very forgetful, especially pots cooking on the stove. The loss of body hair made me feel very self-conscious. Thank goodness for wigs!

To deal with the side effects of my cancer treatment, I started composing music and lyrics. I never thought in my wildest dream, I would compose the story of my cancer experiences through music. It became the best medicine for me, taking me to another world where I could disassociate my cancer pain and any other discomforts from my various treatments.

After two months, the chemo treatment was finally over and I was back in remission in October 2008. I continued for another month on fortnightly MabThera IV treatment to kill off any stray cancer cells that might have been floating around my body. In March 2009 I had the best 60th birthday gift given to me, which was an offer to have my stem cells collected and stored for future use. but I hope I never have to use them!

The chemotherapy did affect my immune system badly and in 2010 I was placed on monthly IV Intragam Therapy to help rebuild it. Finally, the good news came in 2011. The oncologist informed me that I was cured, but there was a caveat – cancer may come back in about ten years. My reply was, “I’m not going to worry about the future as new and better treatments will be found.”

After experiencing cancer myself and losing friends who were not so lucky, I wanted to support cancer research. I know that researchers are working on new and improved treatments that will one day make our fear of cancer a thing of the past. After looking at various Australian cancer organisations I came across ACRF and was very impressed with how it functioned. Donations go towards grants that buy state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment for the best cancer researcher projects around the country.

I have raised money for ACRF in many different ways over the years. I’ve sold my handmade chocolates, jams and musical pattern placemats and serviettes. I’ve also hosted morning teas and organised garage sales with my husband and a few friends. One of my favourite fundraising activities so far has been creating my album ‘Chrysalis’, a musical storybook of cancer experiences. Proceeds from the sale of this CD go towards ACRF. I wanted to make a touching and uplifting album written from the heart to help others who are going through similar experiences. I want to support others who need to talk about their feelings and frustrations when going through cancer. Anyone interested is welcome to visit my website and interact with me. Hopefully, they will realise they are not alone.” – ACRF supporter, Rosie Lee

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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.

Cancer research gave Dad 13 more years to spend with our family

Jess and Phil“On April 8 I lost my dad to cancer. Just a month before, I watched as he walked up the hospital hallway by himself, achieving a goal he had been working towards with his physio team since his last surgery. It seemed impossible to most of us but he was always determined to get better.

My dad lived with cancer for 13 years. There were many years where we thought to ourselves, ‘This is it. This is the last Father’s Day, this is the last Christmas’ but he always made it through.

He had been fortunate that he qualified for many different medical trials throughout his illness. Every medication that came around, he would give it a go – no matter what. It was always something new, like a magic trick the researchers would pull out of a hat to give him more time.

I am so thankful for cancer researchers. Their dedication to progress provided some of the newer treatments that not only gave him more time but improved his quality of life.

This meant so much to him because it let him keep doing the things he loved, like travelling and spending time with his family. He was also able to keep working for the Fire Brigade. Everyone who knew my dad knew about his passion for his career, I feel like it was one of the things that kept him going.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he first began as a volunteer firefighter and worked hard to earn a full time position as a fire investigator. He worked right up until the very end.

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

Dad endured many different cancers over the last 13 years, including bowel, lung and bone. But it was brain cancer that took him in the end. I feel it was the worst for him to go through.

My mum and I were playing all his favourite songs on his last day, dancing around his bed like mad women, he would have loved it. They say that hearing is the last thing to go, so I just know this would have made him happy.

My dad always liked to make sure he thanked people when they helped him. So I wanted to thank cancer researchers on his behalf.

I began supporting Australian Cancer Research Foundation to give other families more time with their loved ones. I know that together we can help researchers improve cancer prevention, detection and treatments for patients.

It is my hope that one day cancer won’t be on anyone’s mind at Christmas.” – ACRF supporter, Jessica Broome

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Facts and Statistics about Common Women’s Cancers: Breast, Gynaecological, Cervical and Ovarian

Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Breast Cancer, cancer charity, Cancer Research, charity foundation, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Types of cancer, women's cancer, women's cancers, Women’s Cancer Month, Women’s Cancer Facts, Breast Cancer Facts, Gynaecological Cancer, Gynaecological Cancer Facts, Cervical Cancer, Cervical Cancer Facts, Ovarian Cancer Facts, Ovarian Cancer, Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ovarian cancer awareness month, cancer fundraising, cancer research fundraising, give to charity, cancers affecting women

Each day up to 170 women in Australia are diagnosed with cancer. With this alarming figure, ACRF is determined to make a difference in the lives of Australian women through cancer research.

To raise awareness of the cancers that affect women this month, we’ve compiled a few interesting facts and stats.

Women’s cancer facts and statistics at a glance

  • 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer before the age of 85
  • There are over 200 types of cancer that can affect women
  • The most common cancers diagnosed with Australian women are: non-melanoma of the skin, breast, colorectal, leukaemia and lymphoma
  • Thanks to research, survival rates were highest for women diagnosed with thyroid cancer (97%), lip cancer (94%) and melanoma of the skin (94%)

Breast cancer facts and statistics

  • 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women
  • Thanks to research, the 5 year survival rate is just over 90%
  • Known risk factors are diet, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity
  • Breast cancer in men accounts for around 1% of all breast cancer occurrences

Gynaecological cancer facts and statistics

  • The risk of an individual being diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer by age 85 is 1 in 22.
  • Gynaecological cancers were the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer among females in Australia.
  • Known risk factors include age
  • The five year survival rate is 68%
  • Gynaecological cancers include malignant neoplasms of vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, placenta and ovaries

For more information on gynaecological cancer, click here.

Cervical cancer facts and statistics

  • The risk of a woman being diagnosed with cervical cancer by the age of 85 is 1 in 162.
  • The five-year survival rate for women with cervical cancer is 72%
  • In 2009, cervical cancer was the third most commonly diagnosed gynaecological cancer in Australia
  • Since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991, the number of new cases of cervical cancer for women of all ages almost halved
  • In 2006, Professor Ian Frazer and his team at the University of Queensland discovered a vaccine to prevent HPV, protecting women against most types of cervical cancer

Ovarian cancer facts and statistics

  • 1 in 75 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer before the age of 85
  • Most common most common cause of gynaecological cancer death in Australia
  • More research is needed to increase the 5 year survival rate from 45%
  • Known risk factors are family history and genetic susceptibility as well as obesity and physical inactivity
  • Symptoms are often vague and can be similar to the symptoms of many other conditions

Donate or Fundraise To Support Women’s Cancer Research

By donating, fundraising for and supporting cancer research into all cancers that affect women, you are helping to fund the next big breakthrough in cancer detection and treatment.

Our Woman’s Appeal aims to raise much needed funds for research into common women’s cancers, including breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. You can make a donation today to help fund research for women with cancer.

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.

Ajith’s cycle challenge for cancer research


“My name is Ajith, I’m 54 years old and based in Melbourne. In September I’ll be taking on a solo cycle challenge to fundraise for cancer research. I’m inspired by the work of Australian Cancer Research Foundation and I want to do my part to help give scientists the equipment they need to do their lifesaving work.

I have known a few people who have been affected by cancer, two of them were very close to me. These friends lived a very healthy lifestyle – they made sure to exercise regularly, eat nutritious food and they weren’t smokers. Yet cancer still impacted these people’s lives.

These experiences with cancer have shown me just how important it is to support organisations like the ACRF so that we can gain a better understanding of cancer and develop proactive and preventative measures to avoid all types of this disease.

In a few months’ time, I’ll be travelling to Spain to cycle a historic pilgrim route called El Camino de Santiago, which is also known by the English names: Way of St. James and Road to Santiago. The trail is in Galicia in north-western Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the Saint are buried.

For me, this is a personal challenge. The 700-kilometre trail across a mix of flat, hilly, gravel roads will take me approximately 16 days to travel if I cycle for 4-6 hours per day.

I have been cycling for 20 years and love to be outdoors in the fresh air discovering nature and taking in beautiful sights.

I am looking forward to being on this cycle tour. I really enjoy travelling. I have been to more than 70 countries in the world and I love to meet new people along the way and experience various local cuisines, and this time I’ll also be raising funds for a cause close to my heart,” ACRF supporter Ajith.

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.

Ashleigh’s Dinner for a Difference

DFAD“My name is Ashleigh Mills, I’m a 26-year-old living in Sydney. In June 2015, a few months after finally saying goodbye to six years of tertiary education, I started my first permanent full-time role at a legal firm – Holding Redlich. At that time, everything seemed to be going according to plan.

Then, one night on a weekend away with friends I felt a weird sensation in my throat. A friend who had heard this complaint noticed that there was a visible lump on the side of my neck. I had absolutely no idea where it came from, or what it was, but I was pretty quick to assure her that it was nothing – obviously.

I’d been to the doctor about the sensation in my throat a few times, but each time I was told that it was likely a response to stress – something that I didn’t question.

When my friends noticed a lump I assumed that it would be nothing and told them so. Thankfully, they didn’t take no for an answer and made sure I went to the medical centre the following day. One week later the biopsy results were in.

That lump turned out to be cancerous and I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. For someone who had always planned their day down to the nth degree, the diagnosis came as a stark reminder that no-one can ever really know what life has in store around the corner.

I still can’t really comprehend everything that happened in the months following my diagnosis. But I remember that for me, one of the hardest things was learning how to deal with telling the people you care about most. In mentioning the word cancer, a subconscious fear sweeps across people’s eyes for just a moment and, as the affected person, you can’t escape how it makes you feel.

That’s the thing with cancer, it doesn’t follow a script and it certainly doesn’t come with a manual. You can’t always control it, but you can control the way you respond to it. It is easy to fear cancer but I don’t think we can afford to. We need to replace that fear with action because every moment is truly important.

By August 2015, my thyroid had been removed and I had commenced radioactive iodine therapy.

While thyroid cancer itself is often highly treatable, many cancers are not and each year too many people lose control of their lives to a disease that poses more questions than answers.

Cancer remains the second biggest killer in Australia. It is an awful and indiscriminate disease, but it is not invincible. Nor should we accept it to be.

20160618_184447With that in mind, I decided that I needed to do something in the fight to end cancer and that I needed to do it fast. I approached the Australian Cancer Research Foundation with a small idea and it grew into something much, much bigger. Then last Saturday night, after months of planning, I hosted a charity black tie gala event called Dinner for a Difference. We raised over $26,000.

Honoured premium sponsors and partners on the evening, Toy ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us, said:  ‘The support from the attendees was overwhelming, most of the guests knew Ashleigh personally and most had a very strong connection with her. It was such an exciting night filled with great positivity and joy. The effort that was put in by Ashleigh and all those involved was outstanding and it was so great that all the hard work paid off’.

I chose to support the ACRF because I immediately felt buoyed by the focus of the organisation to end cancer – for good. While I appreciate the importance of programs that are targeted towards raising awareness of the disease and providing post-diagnosis assistance, I truly believe that the key is research.

To me, cancer research is more than important, it’s absolutely crucial. By funding cancer research, we are getting closer to a breakthrough that will change the way we think about cancer and the many lives that it continues to affect. Thanks to ACRF and its supporters, cancer researchers are being armed with the tools that they need to make breakthroughs.

Thank you to everyone who joined forces with me to support the ACRF, including all 180 guests who attended and Holding Redlich who generously signed on as a gold sponsor of the event. Thank you for believing that together we could make a difference. I am so blown away by everybody’s generosity – blown away and inspired to do more.” – ACRF supporter, Ashleigh Mills.

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.

Stevie saddles up for cancer research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, cancer scientists, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Fundraiser“Dad was a typical country guy. He was always dressed in a flannel shirt with his shoulder-length hair tied into a ponytail.

Nine years ago we lost him to lung cancer. I was just 12-years-old and my older sister was 15. Since then, my family has participated in various events to help raise funds for cancer research, including an annual charity walk.

This year, I was inspired to do something a little different. I’d recently been thinking about the loving horse my dad left to my sister and me when he passed away. I realised this beautiful horse is one of the last things I have of my dad. So I decided I would plan a Horse-riding Fundraiser to honour him and support cancer research.

His horse is named Boston and they had a really beautiful connection – my dad adored her and you could tell that she really loved him too. She would always come right over when he called her. My sister and I now look after her. She’s a very quiet and gentle horse, but she’s also the boss – and she knows it!

Our family has always had a love for horses. Both my parents rode – mum used to ride in competitions all the time, but dad did it just for the love of it. When my sister and I were growing up we loved listening to all their horse stories and going on rides with them. It was so special to have that time together and I’ll always cherish those memories.

I now have a beautiful one-year-old daughter and it saddens me to know that she’ll never get to meet her pop and that my dad will never get to meet his granddaughter. I hope that together we can make great memories of horse-riding too. Even before she could walk we would sit with her on the back of Boston and gently lead her around, she loved it.

I’ll actually be riding Boston on the day of the charity ride. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy a day with these beautiful animals and show their support for cancer research. People are encouraged to bring their horses along. We’ll be organising market stalls and entertainment to help make the day as fun as possible.

The fundraiser will be held at Chapman Valley Horse Riding. They have generously donated the use of their 8,000 acres to the cause. It’s located in Howes Valley, which is an hour drive from Pokolbin and a two-hour drive from Sydney and Newcastle. There will also be a camping area for people to stay overnight and make a weekend of it.

The only fee for the day will be $35 per person to ride and $10 per car to camp on the grounds.

Cancer research is a cause close to my heart and being able to do this in the memory of my dad means the world to me. I’m so proud to be doing my part to help support the amazing researchers who are working to end cancer.” ACRF supporter, Stevie Lee Ackley

To register or learn more about the event, please contact Stevie directly at stevie.ackley@hotmail.com. If you can’t attend but would like to help Stevie reach her fundraising goal, click here.

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

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“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.

How will you celebrate this Mother’s Day?

Balloon_MothersDayv2Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and many of us are starting to think about meaningful Mother’s Day gifts. Wouldn’t a world without cancer be the greatest gift of all this Mother’s Day? These three gift ideas will make mum smile and fund research to end cancer.

  • Donate in lieu of a gift
    Many ACRF supporters choose to make an in-celebration donation in lieu of traditional gifts. A Mother’s Day donation is a thoughtful gift idea that will help fund world-class cancer research. And as thanks, we’ll send your mum a lovely card to acknowledge your generous contribution. Click here to make a donation.
  • Purchase an Entertainment book for her
    Get her an Entertainment Book! It’s full of deals on things you could do together. From each book purchased, 20% percent of the sale will go directly to cancer research. Click here to order.
  • Order a Mother’s Day hamper
    Treat your mum to a gorgeous charity hamper filled with luxury products. 10% of proceeds will help scientists advance research into cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. View the hampers here.

Your support will bring new hope to cancer patients and their families around the world. Families like Gemma’s.

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This illness has turned all our lives upside down, and this happens every day to families all over the world. We are determined to help end cancer, and we cannot do this without research.”

We are very grateful to have supporters who choose to mark special occasions such as Mother’s Day by contributing to the fight against cancer. Read more on Gemma’s story here.

I’m still standing

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“Ian and I will have been married for 46 years next month. We have spent very little time apart in those years. We have three adult children and four grandchildren. We both grew up in the country but spent some time in Brisbane before settling in the rural town of D’Aguilar, Queensland.

On Valentine’s Day in 2004, a year after we moved, I found a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I had to undergo a major operation and travel to the city for daily radium treatments. Not only did cancer have a physical impact on my body, but it also affected me emotionally and financially. For a number of years after, I suffered panic attacks and became a recluse which made it incredibly difficult to work. Six years after my first diagnosis the breast cancer was back.

Thankfully we managed to get through it all together. We never used to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we do now because I am all clear and have been for six years now.

However, our fight against this disease wasn’t over. A week before Christmas in 2014, Ian went to see the doctor in severe pain and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctors told him that unfortunately there was nothing they could do for him and that he should go home and get his affairs in order and enjoy what time he had left.

After we had got all of our affairs in order, our son suggested we have a “wake” as Ian was always saying how unfair it was that you’re not there to party with your friends and family when you die. So we had a pre-departure wake last year. It was just what we both needed – over 120 people came and it was a fantastic day.

During the day of celebrations, Ian told everyone to save the date for an ‘I’m Still Standing’ celebration in 2016 as he would still be here. And he was right.

Because Ian was keeping well, his doctors did an endless amount of scans, blood tests, and biopsies and discovered that he had a Neuroendocrine Tumour. This is a slow-growing form of pancreatic cancer, but it is still terminal. It has been an endless roller coaster ride of emotions, with a lot of twists and turns, but we are grateful for this extra time to enjoy together.

Cancer is an insidious disease that affects so many people. In the past five years, we’ve lost two brothers-in-law, I very recently lost my brother, and now I’m losing a good friend, and my husband – all to terminal cancer.

I nearly lost Ian at Christmas this year, but the fantastic staff at the Redcliffe Oncology performed a miracle and like Ian had promised, he is still here. My darling Ian is such a fighter, so I have decided to make his “I’m Still Standing” celebration day into a fundraiser for cancer research. I wanted to make a difference and help the dedicated and hardworking researchers bring an end to cancer.

We have been very humbled by the wonderful love and support of family and friends and even strangers. While I have been organising the fundraiser I have been blown away by people’s generosity. Thank you to everyone who has kindly helped this day come together. It’s going to be a fantastic event filled with lots of music, laughter, great prizes and everyone is welcome. We’ll also hold an auction, a cut and colour for cancer and have an open mic for anyone who wants to sing on the day.

I would really encourage others to donate or fundraise for cancer research because you may one day help save someone you love!

I hope that maybe our story will give someone else some comfort in their own struggle with cancer.” ACRF supporter, Carol Robinson


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.

Michelle faces her fears to honour her brother

MichelleACRF supporter Michelle Ross will be facing her fear to help end cancer. “Three years ago, my brother Robbie found out that he had cancer at just 27 years old. His doctors found a large tumour in his leg that had to be surgically removed. Although the surgery left him with permanent nerve damage from his ankle down, he had received the all clear.

Unfortunately, his battle was not over. Two years later he began having back troubles and a scan revealed that cancer had returned. This time, it was in his shoulders, his femurs, his lower back and his chest. He fought through a major shoulder replacement which resulted in the loss of almost all movement in his arm. This was followed by months of radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Last year, just before Christmas, we received the good news that he was again in remission.

Watching my brother go through this had really touched my heart. It was amazing to see all the support the hard working nurses and doctors gave Robbie. So to say thank you, I decided to help raise funds for cancer research.

Robbie has been facing what would be anyone’s worst fear. In honour of his courage, I wanted to attempt to face one of my fears and jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet. I signed up to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s JUMP! tandem skydiving program.

Since I’ve signed up, Robbie’s health has worsened. He started having back pain again and after a recent scan, doctors found that the cancer had returned for a third time in the vertebras of his lower back and he’s had to undergo more chemotherapy.

Two weeks ago his legs gave way and he had a fall. The cancer has paralysed him from his belly button down and he can no longer walk.

My family has come together with so much strength and love to support my brother through this hard time. Robbie is now in a wheelchair full-time and my parents have moved in to care for him at his home in Sydney.

I want to help find a cure for families in the future. No one should have to go through what my brother and so many people are going through.

I am so thankful for the amazing fundraising support that I have received from my friends and even strangers. Too many people you talk to in the street, know a family member or friend going through cancer and I hope that one day we end cancer once and for all.” ACRF supporter, Michelle Ross

To support Michelle visit: https://jump.everydayhero.com/au/michelle 

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.

Shave to Save supports cancer research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Types of cancer, End cancer, Head shave, head shave for cancer research, shave for the cure, shave for cancer, had shave for cancer, shave for cancer researchYoung Western Australian siblings, Prem and Mansi Aghera, together with their friends, Amee Bhuva and Ravi Ghodasara, raised over $6,000 for cancer research. We spoke to Prem about their amazing ‘Shave to Save’ fundraiser.

“My sister, Mansi was affected by cancer some time ago, so cancer research is a cause close to home. Mansi wanted this fundraiser to be a tribute to those who aren’t as lucky as her and to help researchers bring an end cancer. We know first-hand how cancer affects patients and their families and we wanted to help prevent more families from going through what we had to.

Apart from raising money, we also thought it was equally important to show solidarity with current cancer patients. We know that sometimes patients who lose their hair feel embarrassed and try to cover up. We hoped that by shaving our heads and proudly strutting around with our new looks that we could encourage people going through treatment to feel confident, with or without hair.

We wanted to spread awareness of the importance of cancer research and get as many people involved as possible. By choosing to shave our head we attracted a lot of interest in our community.

The ‘Shave to Save’ fundraiser was our way of showing everyone who is battling this disease that our community is standing with them – and we were overwhelmed by the support. Honestly, I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner! We are truly humbled by the incredible support we’ve received over the past few months and we hope we’ve made a positive impact.

We chose to support the ACRF because the main aim of the foundation is to eradicate cancer altogether, and that’s our ultimate aim too. While there is a long road ahead, we have seen the impact a small fundraiser can have.

I believe that if people unite together we will continue to get closer to a future without cancer.” – ACRF supporter, Prem Aghera

FDC conquered the Rottnest Island Swim for Cancer Research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, corporate giving, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, Fundraising Stories, fundraising, give to charity, Types of cancer, Rottnest Channel Swim, Rottnest Island, The Rottnest Channel SwimThank you to our corporate supporters, FDC! A team from the Western Australian construction business took on the 19km Rottnest Swim challenge late last month.

Their swimmers – Mark, Monique, Sveta and April along with support crew Ed, Jason and John were all very excited to be fundraising for a cause close to their hearts.

“A number of people in our office have recently been touched by different types of cancer. So we chose to compete in this challenge to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation because they are committed to ending all types of cancer.

We received wonderful support from our work colleagues, friends, families and extended community. We encouraged everyone we knew to get behind our team and help us reach our target by donating their spare change or coffee money to cancer research. Together we were able to raise close to $3,000 for a charity we value so highly.

The highlights on the day were all of us working together and having a laugh, everyone was very supportive – team members and competitors alike. This made our experience very enjoyable and we have been talking about doing the race again next year.

Most of us know someone that is either fighting cancer or has been directly affected by it in one way or another. With the shocking stats out there we are proud that we could do our bit to help researchers find a cure for all cancers.” – ACRF supporter, April Moir

To support the team, visit their everyday hero page.

Photo supplied by Aussies in Action.

A motorcycle trek in memory of two great men

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, give to charity, leukaemia, Types of cancer, Motorcycle challengeACRF supporter, Daniel Kranz is a 36-year-old father of two. He lives with his wife, Hannah, in Tinonee. In addition to recently starting his own skateboard manufacturing business, he is also busy planning an epic postie trek to honour two special men whom he lost to cancer.

“The Jindaboonda Postie Trek is a motorcycle ride of over 3,000km to raise funds for cancer research in memory of Dennis Jeffers (Jindaboonda). Last year pancreatic cancer took this awesome husband, father, son, grandfather, uncle and mate away from us. And what’s worse is Den wasn’t the first person I’ve lost to cancer. In 2001, I lost my Grandad, Murray Kranz, to leukaemia.

Den and I were always trying to organise a ride together but unfortunately that never happened.

Losing him so suddenly left our family utterly shell-shocked. I wanted to make something positive out of something so negative and organise this epic ride to celebrate the memory of him, my Grandad and everyone else who is afflicted by cancer. And what better way to help a family heal, than to get everyone together doing something these men loved, and in the process raise funds to help fight the disease that took them away.

A love of motorcycling wasn’t the only similarity between Den and Murray. They were both devoted family men who were respected and adored by everyone that knew them. We are told time and again by numerous people how positive their impact was on the community and how dearly missed they are. They were fine examples of how to be a good human being.

Both men were also very passionate about their careers. Den was an ecologist and ‘Jindaboonda’ was the name given to him by the members of the Biripi community after he worked with them extensively, teaching them about native plant seed propagation and bush regeneration.

Murray was a mechanic and in his retirement he restored several old 40s and 50s motorcycles. I guess once motorcycling is in your blood – you’re hooked for life. Anyone who rides a motorcycle will agree with me that it’s about as close to complete freedom as you can get.

Over 20 riders have registered for the trek so far. A large crew of extended family and close friends will also be following in support vehicles. I think all those postie bikes riding in group formation through town should get quite a lot of attention for the cause!

We’ve even had a few people who obtained their licences just to take part in the trek. One such rider is Emma. She lost her mum to cancer three and half years ago, and there was no way she was missing out on doing the ride.

We chose to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation because it was important to us that we raise funds for an organisation that contributes to the research of all forms of cancer. When we approached the ACRF, they were so helpful and assisted me to get the ball rolling. It’s been a positive experience right from the start.

We’re all working hard to fundraise as much as we can in the memory our loved ones, and in the process, we’re having an adventure and healing together.

Thank you to all the participants, to everyone who has donated and sponsored us, and to all those who have helped us out so far.” – Daniel Kranz, ACRF supporter.

To support the Jindaboonda Postie Trek, click here.


Entertainment Books are now available for order through ACRF

entertainment book, cancer research, deals, charity, donationsEntertainment Books are a great way to make the most of what is happening in your local community. They offer hundreds of discounts and 2-for-1 vouchers from the finest restaurants, cafés, attractions, and accommodation.

And best of all, when you order the Entertainment Book through ACRF you’ll also be investing in better cancer diagnosis, treatments and prevention methods.

From each book purchased, 20% of profits will fund world-class cancer research, helping Australia’s best scientists speed up progress in cancer research. Find out more about the work they do here.

The Entertainment Book now has two options to choose from – the traditional hard copy book and a new digital membership. Each membership gives you over $20,000 worth of valuable offers valid through to 1 June 2017.

With the digital version of the Entertainment Book, it’s even easier to find restaurants and attractions near you. The hard copy book will be available for pick up in April from the ACRF office which is conveniently located in the heart of Sydney.

“The book gave us hundreds of ideas on places to see and eat. We saved heaps on trips as well, it’s just fantastic!” Michelle E., Sydney

Place your order and help bring us closer to a world without cancer.

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.

What research did for breast cancer patient, Shona

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Breast Cancer, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, cancer fun run, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, current cancer research, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Running for Cancer Research, Canberra, Canberra Times Australian Running Festival“My name is Shona. I’m a mother of two young girls, aged 6 and 10, and a police officer from Canberra. In November last year, a week after my 39th birthday, I discovered a lump in my left breast.

I had never been diligent about self-checking. I always thought I was too young to contemplate breast cancer but I had a feeling that this lump hadn’t been there before. I reluctantly went to see my GP in the hope she would tell me it was nothing to worry about – she didn’t.

She sent me in for testing and two days later I was booked in for an ultrasound and biopsy. The results came back the following day and I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma.

The next few days were all a whirlwind and it felt like my feet didn’t touch the ground. I was quickly referred to a breast cancer surgeon and put in contact with a breast care nurse at Calvary Hospital.

Within two weeks of my diagnosis, I underwent a mastectomy. I will be forever grateful that my lymph nodes were clear and I was sent home from the hospital three days later. I recovered from the operation with absolutely no complications and was able to return to work a few weeks later.

My medical team suggested that I have Oncotype DX testing to determine what treatment plan I would need. I only realised how important this testing was when the results came back and showed I wouldn’t have to undergo chemotherapy. Without the testing, my oncologist would have recommended chemotherapy. I am undergoing endocrine therapy, which is not without side effects, but thankfully they are minimal. Which means that I’ll be well enough to run in the Australian Running Festival half marathon in April to raise funds for cancer research.

I have now been given the all clear and I consider myself very lucky. Sadly I lost my grandmother to bowel cancer and two amazing women in my extended family to breast cancer. I am the first woman in my immediate family to undergo treatment for breast cancer and I never want to see my sisters or daughters go through what I had to.

I’m astounded by the overwhelming support I have received from my family, friends and especially my colleagues. I am so proud of my fellow brothers and sisters in blue, their generous donations have contributed to over 90% of my current fundraising total. We really try to support each other during the tough times – they are my extended family and I love them all.

I will carry scars into the future as a testament to my battle but I am determined to not let cancer kill me. I have two amazing and beautiful daughters that need their mum and I am supported by the most incredible man I call my husband. This has been a tough time for me and my family but I am thankful that I am one of the lucky ones.

Early detection and superb medical intervention means I will survive. I hope that by sharing my story I can make people aware of the importance of early detection and self-breast checks, and help raise funds for cancer research.” – ACRF supporter, Shona Davis.

Click here to support Shona’s Canberra Times Half Marathon.

Share your story


Tony Cant Real Estate – Fundraising in memory

Feb_Corporate_TonyCantHunter-based Real Estate agency Tony Cant will be supporting cancer research in honour of their founder, Ross Birrell who lost his battle with lung cancer last year.

Ross’s son, John Birrell followed in his father’s footsteps as the Principal and Sales Consultant of the agency. He has pledged to donate 5% of the commission from each house sold in March to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

“I lived my life to make my father proud, and I like to think I achieved that. It was great to hear him say how proud he was of his kids, his wife, and his staff.

Ross, in a nutshell, was an action man. He was an utterly selfless and giving man with an enviable spark for life. He lived by the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ and I like to think I can carry on that legacy. As the anniversary of his passing approached we decided to support cancer research because we wanted to prevent other families from going through the same loss.

Ross tried his hand at every career under the sun before finding his true passion in real estate. Real estate resonated with his ambitious, enthusiastic and vibrant personality and with the help of his long-term mate, Tony Cant, he was able to set up two small businesses in Thornton and Medowie.

All of our offices are doing something to get involved. We’re currently advertising our promotion in local newspapers, have distributed flyers and made letterbox drops throughout the community. We have also shared it across our social platforms, our website and on our email signatures.

It was hard to say goodbye to my dad as he was my role model and my best mate.  I am proud that the team at Tony Cant can do our part to end cancer in his memory.” – ACRF Supporter, John Birrell

To learn about different ways your workplace can get involved with ACRF, click here.

Basia and Gary’s Story

Basia&GaryFamily“I was pacing the lounge room floor feeding Grayce when I heard a car door slam out the front. Just for a second, I thought he’d come home, that he had been out for dinner with the boys, that the last six months had disappeared.

It felt nice, for one second, like it used to be. I hope there are other fleeting moments like that. Because just for a second, I was in that other life and I remembered how it felt to be happy.

I lost my husband, Gary, to oesophageal cancer 19 days after we were married. Our third child, Grayce, was born four weeks later.

Though our time together was short we managed to fit a lot of life into those years. We also had lots of quiet moments, just enjoying spending time with each other.

He was very hands-on around the house and with the children. There was nothing he loved more than to potter around on the weekends doing the jobs he had listed during the week, fixing things and finding better ways of doing things and then we would have our coffee mid-morning sitting in the backyard.

We would email each other every day at work – just a few words here and there, or an interesting article. I miss all the little things that made our lives so much fun. The touch of his skin, a thousand gestures.

Gary’s battle with cancer started on the 2nd of July and lasted for twelve and a half weeks. As the cancer ate away at Gary, I thought he looked more beautiful. His spirit, grace and dignity shone through more with each passing day.

He was the perfect patient. He never complained and would try and help me help him as much as possible, even trying to lift and move his legs with his hands, and I would tell him off each time.

That’s why we decided to call our daughter Grayce with a ‘y’ – grace for how much of it shone through him during this battle. The four letters of Gary’s name are carried on in the name of his daughter.

That was his next goal, and what he told the doctors at his last oncology appointment. He wanted to meet his daughter.

In the end I couldn’t ask it of him. I knew he could hear everything I was saying. I lay down on the bed next to him and put his right hand on top of my belly. I told him I loved him so. I said, ‘I don’t want to let you go but I have to. It’s time for you to go.’

He opened his eyes and deliberately blinked at me for the first time in hours. Then he took two more breaths and went.

I still cannot bring myself to stretch out across the whole bed. It will mean finally admitting to myself that he won’t be riding his bike home and pushing it through the open door. That he won’t be bending down to hug the kids as they come running to greet him, squealing with delight. I know those things cannot happen but I still see them. I wish them. I live them in my head.

They say memories are golden. Well maybe that’s true, but I never wanted memories, I only wanted you.” – ACRF Supporter, Basia

We can’t bring Basia’s husband back to her but we can stand beside her while she continues to battle cancer through supporting research. To help her in her mission to protect others from having to go through what she went through click below.



International Day of Women and Girls in Science

cancer research, women in cancer research, International Day of Women and Girls in ScienceToday is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to recognise the inspirational women who are achieving incredible feats, many of which we already benefit from. From our world-class Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) we would like to recognise the following women who have dedicated their careers to advancing cancer research.

Professor Michelle Haber AM, BSc (Psych) (Hons), PhD, Hon DSc UNSW: Professor Haber was appointed to the MRAC in 2012. She is the Executive Director of the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia in Sydney. Additionally she is the Conjoint Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW.

Professor Jennifer Stow, BSc (Hons), PhD: Professor Stow was appointed to the MRAC in 2009. She is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and the Deputy Director for Research and Group Leader at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience located in the University of Queensland.

Associate Professor Connie Trimble, MD: Professor Trimble was appointed to the MRAC in 2014 and is one of the first international members of our committee. Professor Trimble is the Associate Professor of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Oncology at John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA. She is also a Diplomat of the American Board of Pathology and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Professor Emma Whitelaw: Professor Whitelaw was appointed to the MRAC in 2012. She is an NHMRC Australia Fellow as well as the Director of the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences.

Each of these women have done amazing work with the ACRF and is an inspiration to young women looking for mentors in leading roles. We’re extremely proud to work with these women on a regular basis and thank them all very much for their dedication to cancer research in Australia.

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.

A little girl with big dreams

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At only seven years old, Leah Paterson is one of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s youngest supporters. She’s been working to raise funds for cancer research in honour of her great-grandmother who is currently undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Leah has earned a place as a finalist in the Junior Miss Diamond Australia 2016 pageant. The contest encourages participants to be part of a cause that helps others and teaches them how to fundraise for charity.

As part of her quest to gain the title, Leah is required to represent her local area and choose a charity to partner with. Leah chose to support cancer research through the ACRF as her family has been touched by the horrible disease twice in the past few years.

“My great-grandmother has been going through treatment for pancreatic cancer. And my mum also lost her uncle a few years ago to the same cancer. I am raising money so researchers can help fix people like my great-grandma by finding stronger ways to fight cancer,” said Leah.

Leah is hoping to raise close to $2,000 before the pageant grand final in April. To help reach her target she been raising awareness about cancer research by doing various fundraising activities throughout her school and community.

Leah’s mother and great-grandmother are very proud of Leah’s commitment to a cause so close to their hearts. “This contest is different to typical pageant competitions, it focuses on promoting community values and helps teach children that there is so much more to beauty than physical appearance,” said Leah’s mother, Sara.


Lee Bektash is on the fast-track to end cancer

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Lee Bektash is a Victorian drag racing driver for Team Mopar and he’s put his support behind the Australian Cancer Research Foundation. The Pro-Stock Star and his team donated their prize money from last week’s race at Calder Park to help fast-track better treatments and detection for cancer.

Lee achieved the top speed of the Pro Stock Race, reaching an incredible 200.65 mph (323 km/h).

“This is something that I have wanted to do for a little while. I lost my first cousin to cancer six months ago and our family had also lost another relative to cancer just last year.

Cancer affects everyone and we want to be a part of helping to find cures so that as few families as possible are affected like we have been. The cures are out there, we just need to find them!

We decided to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation because it is a private organisation, relying on the power of the community in order to provide Australia’s best cancer research teams with the technologies and facilities they need to fast-track discoveries.

I’ve been so proud of our team’s efforts over the last few seasons, we’ve had good results because of the support we’ve received. Our weekend at Calder Park gave us a great opportunity to put some money to good use – and there is no better cause than this!

The ACRF funds and supports the analysis and testing of new treatment, diagnostic and preventative measures for all types of cancer. It keeps Australian scientists at the forefront of medical research and brings us ever closer to the cures.

This is a privilege for the Team Mopar Australia crew, we put everything into our races in the hope that we can give something back!”

A big thank you to Lee and the team for their generous support!


Toby’s Beard Shave for Cancer Research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, Challenge, charity challenge, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Types of cancer, shave for the cure, be brave and shave, shave my hair for cancer, head shave for cancer research“My name is Toby and I’m 29. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in October 2014. Prior to my diagnosis, I was a very active and healthy person – I enjoyed running and hitting the gym, I never smoked and drank only on occasion. There was also no history of rectal cancer in my family – so the diagnosis came as quite a shock.

Since then I have received multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as some major operations so doctors could remove the cancer, create a temporary ileostomy, and then reverse it.

I’m currently recovering from the reversal surgery and getting used to my new “plumbing.” I will still need to go to follow-up appointments every three months or so but fortunately I was given the all clear late last year.

A couple of months before I was diagnosed I started growing a beard. Once everybody got over the initial shock of my diagnosis, questions began turning to my beard and when I was going to shave it.

My beard had become a comfort for me through all of this, so if I was going to shave – it had to be for a good reason! I started thinking about the idea of shaving it off for charity and because I received so much support, I felt that I should do something to give back.

Cancer is too common and this has become even more obvious since I was diagnosed. Almost everyone I meet has a story of someone close to them who has been affected by cancer. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones and I wanted something good to come from my experience.

On Australia day, I’ll be holding a celebration and shaving ceremony at our local bowls club. I’ll be putting on a big barbeque to say thank you to all my friends and family who supported me and donated to my cause. I’ll also be raffling off some great prizes from generous local businesses, as well as the honour of who will get to make the first cut of the shave!

I really hope that someday, no one will have to go through what I and so many others have been through. Finding a cure or a gentler form of treatment is the ultimate goal and that is why I decided to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Every little bit helps to bring us closer to finding a cure or developing better treatments that will make it easier on those diagnosed, and their family.” – ACRF Supporter, Toby Stodart.

To support Toby’s Beard Shave for Cancer, click here.

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.

I’m a walking testimony to cancer research

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, cancer fundraising, Cancer Research, cancer research fundraising, charity foundation, donate to charity, Fighting cancer, Funding research, Fundraiser, fundraising, Fundraising Stories, Types of cancer, cancer scientistsPamela Kirby supports cancer research because she has seen the life-saving benefits first-hand.

“My cancer journey started in September 2010. I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer and an operation was quickly scheduled for November. It was during my treatment process that I was also diagnosed with stage 1 primary lung cancer.

Within a few weeks I was back in surgery for a major lung cancer operation. That was the hardest to recover from and it was followed by four and a half months of chemotherapy treatment.

Unfortunately, the bad news continued and in 2013 three more lesions were discovered on my lung. By May 2014 I had suffered a major seizure and my doctors told me I had developed secondary brain cancer that spread from my lungs.

Cancer has been a challenge from day one, but it has been really empowering to fight this battle and I believe I am much stronger now. After five years of intensive treatment and lengthy hospital stays, the prognosis is looking good for me and I’m feeling much better.

I am so thankful for my highly skilled oncologist Dr Nick Pavalakis and his team. Using the treatment options and testing resources cancer research has made available to them, they were able to learn more about my cancer, find out which treatments would work best for me and help manage some of the unbearable side-effects.

From my experience I learned just how vital cancer research was and how significantly it impacts current patient treatments. I’m a walking testimony to the progress researchers are making.

Whilst undergoing treatment I wanted to inspire others affected by cancer and show them that they have the strength to fight through this battle too. I decided to organise a fundraising event to help contribute towards cancer research.

I held a Ladies Night Out at our local bowling club. It was a great evening of tequila tasting, 60’s music, a fashion parade, raffles, candle demonstrations and an auction. I’m really proud that we were able to raise close to $4000 for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

My health has greatly improved and we’re now looking forward to the future and a special holiday in Hawaii in just a few weeks. I still need to get scans every three months, which are stressful as waiting for the results is always a torment. But I believe remaining positive has really helped me on this journey and I am thankful to have been supported by my wonderful friends and family and a highly skilled medical team. Every new day I get to spend with my amazing husband Brian, our kids and grandkids is sheer joy.” – Pamela Kirby, ACRF Supporter

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Pedalling for cancer research in memory of Penny

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Kirsten, Amber, Angie and Rachel


In May 2015 ACRF supporter, Kirsten lost her mother, Penny, after a two-year battle with lung cancer. To honour Penny, Kirsten and her good friend Rachel began planning a garden party to support cancer research. When her friend Angie received the invitation, she put her hand up to help with the fundraising efforts.

“Kirsten absolutely adored her Mum and it has been a difficult time for her and her family. As soon as I heard about the fundraiser I wanted to do my part to help, so I decided to hold an epic 24-hour spin challenge,” said Angie.

“I got to work organising my ‘Pedalling for Penny’ event. The local community really got behind me. I received such generous support from my local 24-hour gym and many local businesses that each sponsored a one-hour block of my ride or donated their services.

From 10 am on Saturday 7th November to 10 am on Sunday 8th November I cycled continuously around the clock. In that time, I accomplished the equivalent distance of riding from the Sunshine Coast to Newcastle.

I love being active and I’m very social, so it was very mentally challenging for me to be seated in one place for such a long time – I am very thankful I had so much wonderful support around me the whole time. It melted my heart to have my husband, my sons and friends there cheering me on. And it was great to see my community come out to support me too! Other gym members and sponsors cycled alongside me for an hour and shared their stories of loved ones who had been affected by cancer. Even the police stopped by to visit and make sure I was doing okay.

It was an honour to ride for Penny and to support Kirsten and her family. Penny was the most beautiful person filled with an enormous amount of love and I felt her by my side throughout this journey.

Sadly so many people are touched by cancer, and as a registered nurse I often see the awful effect it has on patients and their families. I am so proud that I was able to do this challenge and raise funds for cancer research to help put an end to this awful disease.”

Kirsten along with her good friends Rachel and Angie have raised a total of $6,698.50 for cancer research.

To support Angie, click here.

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Young cyclist takes on Mount Kosciuszko for cancer research

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ACRF supporter, Ben Coulter is a 19-year-old cycling enthusiast from Cairns. In October, he successfully rode solo and unsupported from Melbourne all the way to Sydney via Mount Kosciuszko to support cancer research.

“I wanted to give something back to the community and, because cancer impacts so many lives, I decided to raise funds for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

I’m very passionate about road cycling and mountain biking. I love riding because it’s such a good release. I’ve been working professionally in the biking industry for around three years now and I really enjoy it.

Over the 16-day journey, I covered around 1,700 kilometres and climbed over 24,000 vertical meters! I chose the route via Mount Kosciuszko because it was a huge challenge. It was mostly steep climbs and I thought the harder, the better, as I knew it was going to be the most rewarding for me to achieve.

In the past, I’ve completed a few other big rides including the 720 kilometre Cairns to Karumba and the 320 kilometre Cairns to Cooktown. However these rides were all supported and we rode in groups. The Sydney to Melbourne challenge was my first solo, unsupported journey and I plan on doing many more.

My favourite areas along the way were probably Corryong or Marysville in Victoria – I love the beautiful, crisp alpine environment and the scenery made for a great ride. One of the most memorable highlights from my trip included cycling the mountain ranges around the Tolmie area. It was such a great feeling making the climb to the top of the Dead Horse Gap just outside of Thredbo and cycling to the top of Mount Kosciuszko.

I would highly recommend doing a solo charity ride. If you’re thinking about taking on any charity challenge for the ACRF, my advice is to make sure you’re prepared and then give it all you’ve got! Embrace the challenge and when it gets tough, remember why you are doing it.”

Click here to support Ben.

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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.

Cancer Research Saved My Parents

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Targeted laser treatments for breast cancer and early diagnostic tests for bowel cancer gave Christina more time with her mum and dad.

“The best gifts I’ve ever received were the cancer treatments that saved my parents. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was living interstate so when I got the phone call I was in utter shock and disbelief.

I came back to sit with her through as many of her appointments as I could because she just sort of shut off when they were going through all the different options, I think it was just too much to take in all at once. We had never been touched by cancer before, so everything we were hearing was new.

At an appointment, one of the doctors explained to us that there was a new experimental treatment available that allowed them to better target cancerous lymph nodes, which meant that she could still keep her healthy ones.

This new treatment was not only successful, it also lessened the aftermath of surgery. Some people may not know, but treatments have come a long way. This was a really eye-opening experience for me because it was the first time I could really see it first-hand.

Later that year my dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer and we actually thought it was a cruel joke because the diagnosis was now the third one to hit our family over just a few months’ time. We lost my grandpa to oesophageal cancer shortly after my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I think after that we were on high alert because my dad noticed he was having symptoms and went in for testing straight away. It was because of this that they were able to catch bowel cancer early. I’m so thankful for the hard lessons we learned because I know they played a big part in saving my dad’s life.

I know there are a lot of great charities out there, but the thing with cancer research is that you never know how many lives could be saved with the next breakthrough.”

Christina Belperio – Regular Giver of the Month

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The Norman Foo Fund


In memory of his late uncle, ACRF Supporter Timothy Lim has embarked on an intense training regimen to help prepare him for the Busselton Ironman Triathlon this Sunday, December 6th.

“My uncle, Norman Foo lost his three and a half year battle with lung cancer in the early hours of July 24, 2015. He was a father, a husband, a grandfather, an academic, and a genuine human being. He was positive and brave to the end.”

In Australia, lung cancer is one of the five most commonly diagnosed cancers and causes more deaths than any other type of cancer. It only has a 5-year survival rate of about 14%.

“One of his final wishes was that we donate to charities in lieu of flowers at his funeral. Through my fundraiser, the Norman Foo Fund, I hope to raise over $10,000 to help the ACRF fund research to end cancer.”

With the help of generous family and friends, Tim has already achieved more than half of his initial fundraising target!

“Uncle Norman has always been such an inspiration to me. I have been in awe of his bravery, optimism, and ability to endure. To champion my fundraising effort, I will be attempting my first full Ironman-distance triathlon. It will consist of a 3.8km swim, followed by an 180km bike ride, and finished with a 42.2km run. This will be a true test of my physical and mental endurance.”

Tim is a 30-year-old engineer from Brisbane who considers himself pretty ordinary. “I enjoy food, frolicking in the sunshine…and not being at work.” And when he’s not working his 9-5 he’s been putting in an extraordinary effort into his fitness and training. Already this year, Tim ran 42km at the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival and completed his first triathlon in Noosa. He pushes his limits in weekly swim squad sessions and long distance cycling. With one month to go to the Busselton Ironman, he is feeling fit and strong.

To help support Tim and his Norman Foo Fundraiser, click here.

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Cancer Research Achievements Acknowledged at Clifford Awards

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The Clifford Prize for Cancer Research was presented to Professor Inder Verma and Professor Jane Visvader at Seventh Barossa Meeting on Cell Signalling in Cancer Biology and Therapy.

The bi-annual prize is presented by the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB), South Australia, for outstanding international achievement in cancer research.

Professor Verma is an American Cancer Society Professor of Molecular Biology in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He has been responsible for many major discoveries in cancer biology over the past four decades, ranging from basic discoveries regarding transcription factors involved in cancer, laying the basis for modern molecular biology by developing the cDNA synthesis procedure using reverse transcriptase, to development of viral-based vectors for gene therapy approaches to various genetic diseases, including cancers.

Professor Verma and co-workers have ingeniously employed specific methods of mouse genetics to reveal the roles of many specific oncogenes / transcription factors in normal cellular growth, differentiation and development.

Professor Visvader is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. She and her team have made major contributions to the understanding of breast cancer by isolating mammary stem cells, defining master regulators of mammary gland development and identifying genetic lesions that drive oncogenesis. Her landmark discoveries have revealed master regulators that orchestrate cell fate decisions in the mammary gland, providing an indispensable framework for understanding mammary lineage commitment and differentiation, and a basis for understanding origins of breast cancer.

The Clifford Prize for Cancer Research represents an appreciation by Australian scientists for discoveries that have combined outstanding science with significant clinical relevance.

The ACRF Cancer Genomics Facility was established at the CCB in 2009, with the assistance of a $3.5m grant from the ACRF.

Image courtesy of CCB, left to right: Professor Inder Verma, Professor Jane Visvader, Prof Sharad Kumar, Dr Leanna Read, Chief Scientist, South Australia and Prof Angel Lopez, CCB.

Fiona knows how precious time is

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“I will forever cherish the Christmas holidays I spent with my mum and my sister. My mum Annie was sedated and on pain relief, but she smiled and was so happy when I told her that she was finally going to be a grandmother. I still remember holding her hand and the way she smiled when I told her. My father kept joking saying ‘You’re going to be Grannie Annie, Grannie Annie.’

She now has six grandsons but sadly she didn’t get the chance to meet any of them. I think my mum would have been so proud of what thoughtful caring young men they have turned out to be. They have their grandmother’s sense of compassion and mischievous sense of humour.

My mum was totally devoted to her family. She was so loving and supportive and was a fantastic role model for me and my two sisters – Andrea and Dominique. I’ve always tried to be as loving and giving as she was. I could easily talk to her about anything and she had this strength about her that I’ve always admired so much.

My family originally came from Great Britain, and so every Christmas we’d have roast turkey with stuffing, baked potatoes and veggies, plum pudding with hot custard – even if it was 38°C. I’ve continued with the turkey (I just serve it cold with salad and seafood now). But I still love my Christmas pudding served hot so that is something that will never change! Also every Christmas me and my three siblings would hang up our Christmas stockings for Santa, and every year we’d find them filled in the morning with a small present.

My husband Colyn and I carried on this tradition when we had Fraser and Lachlan – I even still try and put out their stockings though they sometimes grumble good-naturedly because they’re now teenagers.

Losing my sister to the same disease cut a wound that will never heal. My sister Dom would do anything for anyone.

Riley & mum Thornleigh - 1-2003

She was well respected and loved and this was shown in the large crowd of friends and family who attended her funeral. She was special. Dom was also quite shy and quiet like my mum. She was passionate about the environment and worked as a volunteer.

She loved being a mum – it was her greatest joy. She loved to take her boys out and would run around and play with them.”

At night it was time for bedtime stories and cuddles. Because Riley and Logan loved Thomas the Tank Engine her husband,  Ross built cubbyhouse and Dominique spent hours painting the face of Thomas the Tank Engine on the front. She would make special little carrot muffins for her boys because she knew they loved them.

She would take them to outings and loved taking them for bush walks and showing them the birds, trees and other flora and fauna. She started up a mothers group where she lived as a chance for mums and babies to play and get to know each other.

Her family miss her so very much, it was the special little things that she did for them.

Being there to cuddle them and love them when they were sad or upset. Riley and Logan’s dad and grandmother shower them with love and take them on lots of adventures and holidays but they still miss their mum.”

– Fiona Henrisson, ACRF Supporter

Join Fiona and become a cancer research supporter today

Ruth Robinson, Regular Giver of the Month

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“My dear friend and colleague, Andrew “Sid” Sidoli had fair skin and freckles. While he loved surfing, he always tried to look after his skin by putting on sunscreen and a shirt or wetsuit but it still wasn’t enough in the end.

He was on holidays with his sister, Rebecca, when she noticed an abnormality on his back and told him he needed to get it checked.

The lesion turned out to be melanoma. But from the day of his diagnosis Andrew fought it with everything he had and remained optimistic. One day when I saw him in the corridor at work he told me ‘I’ve been given a 10% chance of survival, and while I have a 10% chance, I have hope.’

Sid was larger than life, he always had a cheeky smile on his face and everyone at work loved and respected him. He made time for everyone and was really supportive when my Mum passed away. He encouraged me, and I think most people in his life, to get our skin checked regularly.

He later became bedridden when the melanoma spread to his lungs and brain. His doctor, the well-known, Charlie Teo did everything he could for him, but at just 40 years old my beautiful friend sadly lost his battle.

Unfortunately, Sid was amongst many of my work colleagues who had been affected by various cancer types over the years. I believe the only way we will fight this dreaded disease is through research, which is why I choose to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

I used to donate whenever I had spare money, which was about twice a year, but not long after Sid passed I signed up to be a regular giver. I realised that if I donated on a monthly basis it would help researcher’s fast track discoveries and ultimately save more lives. I donate just over $1 a day each month so it barely affects my daily budget.

I have seen how advancements in cancer research can really help people. My brother in law, Noel Hughes is now battling liver cancer and the oral chemotherapy tablets he takes are far less traumatic for him than those that were available years earlier.

If you can afford just $1 a day, please consider supporting the ACRF, cancer could affect anyone of us and at any time.”

– Ruth Robinson, Regular Giver of the Month

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Trekking the Larapinta Trail for Cancer Research

A few weeks ago, dedicated ACRF supporter, John Pratt returned home from an epic Larapinta Charity Challenge in the Northern Territory.

Before we got a chance to hear all about his trip, this avid trekker was back in his hiking boots, taking on a section of the Heysen Trail in South Australia for a second time – an impressive way to celebrate his recent 74th birthday.

The ACRF Larapinta charity challenge is one of the seven Great Walks of Australia. “In 2014 I completed the 1200km Heysen Trail and this opportunity to walk the Larapinta Trail seemed too good to pass up. Not only would I be supporting a cause I’ve contributed to for several years, I would get to experience hiking parts of the iconic Larapinta trail and have an opportunity to be on the summit of Mount Sonder to see the sunrise.”

Over the six-day trip, John and a group of 4 leaders and 15 other hikers covered between six and sixteen kilometres each day over a variety of terrain. They were treated to the beautiful sights of an ancient land, taking in the scenic landscapes including the vast flood plains, the razorback rocky outcrops and narrow canyons where sheltered pockets of delicate ferns and twisted gum trees grow from the dry rivers of sand.

After their long days of trekking, the group were able to relax in style in exclusive wilderness campsites. The little taste of luxury ‘glamping’ added to the trekkers enjoyment of the Larapinta Trail, offering lounge and dining facilities, hot showers, eco-toilet facilities, solar lighting, and camera battery charging ports. “The facilities at the semi-permanent campsites were good and all the food was excellent, including the lunches the leaders carried and prepared out on the Trail.“

“Everything went smoothly – it was well organised and well led. For me, the best part of the trip was experiencing highlights of the Larapinta Trail along with a selection of features near its route (like Ormiston Gorge and Pound) with a group of like-minded people who blended together very well.”

The Larapinta Trail is just one of many fundraisers John has accomplished. His advice to others considering signing up for a charity challenge is to just go for it! “Make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared as it will make the experience much more enjoyable,” says John.

John, who lost a close friend to cancer last year, has raised over $2,000 for cancer research in addition to his long-term regular giving. Click here to show your support for John.

There are many ways to get involved in an adventure charity challenge. We provide one-to-one fundraising support along the way to help you reach your fundraising target. Learn more about charity challenges and fundraising.

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


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

Fighting cancer with fitness

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In April, dedicated ACRF supporter, Jodie Gardiner ran in the Australian Running Festival in Canberra and raised over $2,200. Now she’s working her way through a unique fundraising challenge she set for herself called ‘Fighting Cancer with Fitness.’ Jodie hopes to complete 100 workouts before her 42nd birthday while raising funds for a cause close to her heart.

“This year I lost my step-sister, Rachael to liver cancer. My step-mum was diagnosed and is fighting lung cancer. My aunty was diagnosed and is fighting breast cancer. Last year I also lost my uncle to cancer. This is an insidious disease and I’ve had enough.

In losing my step-sister Rachael, we didn’t just lose one woman we lost several because she was the center of so many universes. We always got on like a house on fire and shared a lot of similarities in our lives – we were both public servants who also qualified as a personal trainer and we each had two sons.

Rachael was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer called Sarcomatoid Hepatocellular Carcinoma. After ten months of treatment, she lost her battle. She was only 36 years old, leaving behind her loving husband, Paul and their two young sons.

Rachael was a great mother, it broke her heart that she would not be there to see her children grow up. She worried that her sons wouldn’t remember her, so she asked her family to promise to help make sure they would never forget her.

Paul has been an absolute tower of strength for his sons and is making every effort to ensure they still see their grandparents and that they will always remember their mum.

I am fortunate to have some great memories of Rachael. I worked at a gym with her a few years ago. We had an absolute ball working together – we learned so much about each other and became really close.

Rachael was such a fun, energetic and vibrant woman. She had such a passion for health and exercise, and her love of fitness inspired me to get my personal training qualifications. I remember not long after Rachael was diagnosed, her sister Kylie was attempting her first 10km fun run. Rachael and her family were waiting on the sidelines to cheer Kylie on.

Suddenly, Rachael ran out from the crowd to jog alongside her sister. Rachael motivated Kylie through the final kilometres and they crossed the finish line holding hands. It was a very special moment that I’m glad I got to witness and I think it beautifully sums up what sort of a person she was.

Losing her to cancer made us all realise that life is short and it has certainly made us all stop and smell the roses a little. Everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer, I’m fighting for all of them.”

Click here if you would like to support Jodie.

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Making a Difference in Michael’s Name

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“My family has been touched by cancer a few times, but the two that hurt the most were the loss of my mother and then my husband.

My mother was recently retired when she told me she had found a lump in her breast. After lots of convincing, my sisters and I finally got her to visit the doctor. What she hadn’t told us was that she had first noticed the lump six months ago and by then it had grown extremely large. This was 20 years ago and there weren’t many options available to her at the time. After fighting through 15 months of gruelling treatment she sadly lost her battle with breast cancer.

Years later, Michael, my wonderful husband and the father of our four sons was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at 54 years old. We were really shocked as he had always enjoyed good health and was not showing any symptoms other than an itchy feeling under the skin. Our doctor however, did not suspect good news and the blood test proved it.

Michael endured a lot to try and beat the cancer. He went through one and a half rounds of chemo and underwent a very high risk operation called a Whipple procedure. Thankfully he made it through but it was a long, hard road to recovery after the extensive surgery.

Thanks to the expertise of the doctors and their teams things began to look more positive, but we were only able to spend an extra 22 months with Michael before he passed away at 56 years old.

I donate in Michael’s name each month and hope that my little bit will make a difference so we can find a cure for all cancers. I chose to support the Australian Cancer Research Foundation because it’s a non-profit organisation that awards grants to the most ground-breaking research teams in Australia. I know my donations will help cancer researchers to continue fast-tracking discoveries for the future.”

– Jannelle Scerri, Regular Giver of the Month

Learn more about becoming a regular giver.

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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.

Erin Prepares To JUMP! For Cancer Research

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ACRF Supporter, Erin Headington has a passion for helping people and isn’t afraid of taking on a challenge. In December, shortly after she graduates university as a Registered Nurse, Erin will take the plunge and skydive for cancer research.

“I’m making the jump in honour of my cousin who was diagnosed with lymphoma in June. It was a huge shock at first as she was just 24 years old. We’re only a year and half apart and we have a very close relationship. It’s really horrible knowing she has been having a really tough time with the side-effects of chemotherapy.

Her mother, father and brother have not been coping well with the diagnoses. Their family have experienced a lot of loss in the last 3 years and are now coming to terms with my cousin fighting cancer at such a young age.

I decided to do something to support my cousin and her family so I began researching ways to help cancer patients. When I came across the ACRF I thought that raising money for cancer research would be a good way to do my part to help find a cure. I want to prevent others from enduring this devastating disease in the future.

The ACRF JUMP! skydiving challenge really appealed to me as I’ve always been a thrill-seeker at heart. It’s great to know there are so many different ways to get involved – especially since I could never picture myself running in a marathon.

I would really encourage others to find a fun and achievable challenge that suits them too. At the moment I’m very busy managing two jobs and studying full time – so if I can do it, anyone can!”

Show Erin your support. Erin will also be raising funds for the ACRF with a sausage sizzle out the front of Woolworths Shellharbour on Sunday 22 November between 10am-2pm.


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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.

Remembering Rosemary

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“In the UK in 1998, my twin sister, Rosemary discovered a lump on her breast and was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 38 years old.

Rosemary and her husband were busy parents with four kids – two teenagers Rachel and Tommy, an 11 year old daughter, Jenny and a 9 year old son, Sam. Her illness was extremely hard on the whole family. We felt powerless as we watched her endure so much pain and distress at the thought of leaving her children.

Rosemary fought courageously and was an inspiration to her community. Her friends and neighbours rallied to support the family during their time of need. The locals made renovations to their house to make her life easier and raised money to send her on a trip to visit me in Australia. This was one of the happiest months of my life, we shared precious time reconnecting and reminiscing about our childhood.

It was heart-warming to know that so many people were offering a helping hand where they could. Wednesdays became known as ‘Rosemary Day’ in the area and each week, for three whole years, a group of ladies would take her out for the day. They would visit beautiful and interesting places and then have dinner together at their favourite restaurant.

After five years of suffering Rosemary sadly lost her battle on her daughter’s 11th birthday. It is now a bittersweet day for the family and each year on the anniversary the four children meet in the church garden to celebrate their mother. The two girls also “Run for Rosemary” in Mother’s Day fundraising marathons.

As her twin sister I feel her loss greatly, it’s very upsetting for me knowing that she did not get to see her children grow up or meet her grandchildren. I know that Rosemary would be so proud of her family and how much they have cared for each other.

Over the years, cancer has continued to touch the lives of friends and others around me. A couple of years ago my husband and I realised the importance of cancer research first hand when he was diagnosed with melanoma and took part in a research trial. He has since developed kidney cancer and is being treated with targeted immune therapy which would not have been possible a few years ago.

I often think back to the time when Rosemary developed cancer and appreciate all the progress that has been made since then. I support the ACRF with a monthly donation and have left a bequest in my will. I know my donations go towards helping the ACRF fund the necessary equipment that allows researchers to make many more life-saving discoveries. I hope that together we can spare many families the heartbreak of losing their loved ones in the future.”

ACRF Regular Giver of the Month, Ann Smith

Learn more about becoming a regular giver.
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Beneath the surface of skin cancer patients

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Here at the ACRF we are proud to equip Australia’s leading cancer researchers with the resources they need to end cancer.

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Queensland discovered a protein that helps to control an important process in cell adhesion that is disrupted when someone contracts a disease such as skin cancer.

The researchers said that the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Cancer Biology Imaging Facility at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) played a vital role in this research.

It is currently one of the largest and most comprehensively equipped facilities in Australia for both the imaging and screening of chemical and biological libraries.

The facility was founded in 2010 with a $2.5 million ACRF grant and is home to 23 high-performance microscopes and supporting image data analysis workstations.

PhD student Rashmi Priya at IMB says that what the research has done is clarify the role of the protein myosin in tissue integrity.

“The protein Myosin is found at cell connection points and we now know that it plays a crucial role in regulating how cells stick together to form tissues in the body,” she said.

“Our research has shown that this is because myosin protects a switch that acts as a stabiliser. This switch must be very tightly controlled as it affects many processes within the body. Too much or too little of this switch, or having it in the wrong place, can lead to diseases such as skin cancer, says Priya.”

Professor Alpha Yap, who led the research team, says “The cells in all the tissues of our body die and have to be replaced as regularly as every 24 hours in the intestinal system. For this to happen, adhesion between cells must be carefully broken down and rebuilt, and we now have a better understanding of what it is that’s controlling this whole process.”

The original article was published on the Institute for Molecular Bioscience website, click here to read more.

Isabella’s Crazy Hair Day for Cancer Research

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An outstanding young student from Victoria wanted to honour her late grandfather by raising money for cancer research. Isabella is in year six and decided that the best way to make a big impact was to get her whole school involved – so she approached the vice principal about organising a crazy hair day.

“Isabella came to see me at the start of the term to share her enthusiasm for wanting to make a difference to the lives of people living with cancer. Her passion for this cause was obvious and she had really done her research,” said Vice Principal Stuart Boyle.

“As adults, we are all educators and it’s often how we respond to young people that teaches them the most. I’m truly impressed by Isabella wanting to take on the responsibility of organising a whole school fundraiser.”

Isabella was so proud to be able to do her part to end an illness that had affected her family in such a horrible way. She spent the term organising every detail of the event herself.

She put signs up around the school to promote the event, made sure it was advertised in the weekly school newsletter and spoke at her assembly about the ACRF and why she felt it was important to support cancer research.

She wanted all the students to come to school with their hair teased, coloured and gelled into fun and unique hair styles – and the crazier, the better, because she had even prepared prizes for the ‘best hair’ winners to be drawn at an assembly on the day.

Everyone was invited to participate and students brought along a gold coin donation to show their support for cancer research.

Together Isabella and her primary school were able to raise a fantastic total of $471.10. We thank Isabella for all the hard work she put into supporting the ACRF.

If Isabella’s story has inspired you to organising an event for cancer research, check out our A-Z of Fundraising Ideas.

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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

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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. 

Hope from Heartache: The Dillon Family Honour Their Beloved Grandfathers

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“Unfortunately both my husband Travis and I suddenly lost our fathers to cancer within two and a half years of each other.

Both of these wonderful men had only recently retired and were looking forward to making plans for their futures. They were in their mid-sixties and had worked hard in the agricultural industry all their lives.

The impact of losing a parent was made even worse knowing our young children would no longer get to enjoy such precious times with their adored Poppa and Grandpa.

It has now been over six years since I lost my Dad and not a day goes by where I don’t think of him. I miss him dearly, and every now and then I’ll pick up the phone to call him before remembering that it’s not possible anymore.

Following my Dad’s funeral, Travis and I wanted to do something positive to help prevent others from suffering the same devastating loss. We decided the best way to do this was to support the hard working cancer research scientists trying to find cures for this cruel disease.

As we had lost our fathers to different types of cancer – kidney and prostate, we looked for a foundation that researches cures for all cancers. We chose the ACRF as they are committed to funding research in Australia that aims to end all cancers.

We now make a contribution every month in memory of our fathers. We’re happy to do our part in the fight against cancer and hope that in the future more children will be able to grow up experiencing the joy of spending time with their grandparents.

We are proud to be ACRF supporters and every month we receive updates and eagerly read about the ground-breaking discoveries being made. We believe that without cancer research many more families will be deprived of valuable time with their loved ones.

While there is nothing that can be done in our sad situation, we take comfort in the precious memories we made with our fathers and hold out hope for families in the future.”

– Sally and Travis Dillon

Learn more about becoming a regular giver.
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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.

Brave ACRF supporters skydive for cancer research

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With Father’s day right around the corner, we’re looking back at some of the unique ways ACRF supporters have chosen to celebrate this special day.

Last year the ACRF held a Father’s Day jump in Wollongong where an extremely brave and inspirational team of four siblings did the jump in memory of their father.

As the year progressed we discovered how Father’s Day was just one of many reasons that our supporters chose to take on this challenge.

Susanne Richter was inspired to raise money for Cancer Research as her grandma, grandpa and dad all fought different kinds of cancer.

“My dad successfully fought prostate cancer,” says Susanne. “He is now well and enjoying his retirement but getting there has been really tough. I made the decision to jump for ACRF because there is still so much research that needs to be done to ensure that everyone’s story has a happy ending like my dad’s.”

Susanne jumped with 10 other ACRF supporters who went above and beyond, raising more than $34,000 for world-class cancer research.

“I am so happy to support such a wonderful cause and I am very proud of us and the incredible amount of money that was raised. This was definitely an experience I will never forget!”

ACRF jumper and cancer survivor, Maria De Virgilio, shared her thoughts on why she took the plunge and how she feels that she is living proof that that cancer research will save lives.

“Cancer does not have to be a death sentence, it’s an illness and it’s one we are getting better at fighting with new treatments, and support groups, and most importantly ongoing research.” She teamed up with her sister Teresa and best friend Vicky to celebrate her strength and pay tribute to her friends and family who also battled the disease.

Where as Krystyna Pollard chose to make the jump as brave gesture in support of her mother’s fight against pancreatic cancer.

“I hope that by flinging myself out of a plane I can not only raise money so someone, somewhere can perhaps find a cure for this disease, but so I can face some fear of my own and overcome it. Just like mum is,” says Krystyna.

We are inspired by each and every one of these amazing Jumpers– we cannot thank them enough for their bravery, determination and generosity.


A dedicated daughter and determined mum runs toward the cures for cancer

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Carol Tannous-Sleiman is setting an incredible example for her three young children. Having just run in the 2015 London Marathon in memory of her father, she is already gearing up for another race and continues to raise funds for cancer research.

“The ACRF is an important charity for me and taking on fundraising challenges is something that I do on behalf of my father, my family and my children.”

In the lead up to London she raised an astonishing $11,000. “I can’t thank everyone enough, I’m very humbled that people have donated and are here to support me. Not only does it mean a lot to me, it really means a lot to the many survivors and families out there who have lost love ones to cancer.”

Her and her team of 29 staff from Greenwood Early Education Centre have been gearing up to run in this year’s City2Surf. Together they’re working with a personal trainer and planning a number of fun fundraisers in the lead up to the race, including an international party for both the kids and the parents to get involved in.

Over the years Carol has participated in many famous Marathons, including Paris, Chicago and New York. London was her twelfth Full Marathon and another to cross of the Bucket List.

“London was definitely in the top five – why not do a nice run, for a good cause, in a beautiful city like London?!”

Before having kids, Carol had never pictured herself as a runner. To keep fit she enjoyed a daily 8km walk. “Strangely enough, it was actually my busy lifestyle that provided me with the impetus to start running. With the demands of work and parenthood, I needed to find a more time efficient form of exercise. So I thought, why don’t I just run instead of walk?” Since then she’s never looked back, and has continued to move from strength to strength.

Her first real test was to run the 14km City2Surf and before long she found herself participating in 21km Half Marathons. She finally took on the full 42.2km at the Melbourne Marathon. “When you finally cross that line, it is the biggest sense of achievement. You get very tearful, it’s amazing I’m so excited to share in that moment with my team.”

Click here to show Carol your support.
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James and Kirsty have their eyes on the finish line

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For us, this year is about not letting anything come between us and our dreams – this was the advice my Dad, Mick always gave me.”

This September, James Robson and fiancé Kirsty Donovan will be heading to Europe to run in the Berlin Marathon.

James has been a dedicated ACRF supporter for many years. “While my Dad was receiving chemotherapy treatment back in the UK, I felt like there wasn’t a lot I could do from 12,000 miles away, so I decided to raise as much money as possible to help eradicate this disease.”

“For years I ran in his honour. I ran Iron Man challenges, half marathons and more; running to prevent the sadness, raising money to give every step more meaning in the hopes that Dad might survive his cancer.”

“After three long years of fighting brain tumours, Dad lost his battle with the disease and passed away. I was on a plane home to him as soon as I received the phone call and was able to make it in time to say goodbye. It will be almost a year but it still feels like yesterday.”

“Now I am running in his memory. The ACRF is very close to our hearts and running to raise funds is a way for us to take on a personal challenge at the same time as hitting back at cancer.”

With the help of generous family and friends the couple have raised an astounding $25,000.

James and Kirsty continually strive to move onwards and upwards. With each event they participate in, they continue to challenge both their physical and mental endurance.

“People all over the world are fighting for their lives and they have no rest, so we’ve decided to carry on going to really make a difference and help more people.”

Already this year, they took on the Sydney Half Marathon. “Together we hope to keep going for the full 42km until we reach the Brandenburg Gate.”

We wish James and Kirsty the best of luck, and thank them for their ongoing support.

Click here to show your support for James and Kirsty.
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Kelmscott Police Officers set to scale Mt Fuji in honour of fallen friends

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Mt. Fuji, Japan viewed from Chureito Pagoda in the autumn.


This September, Western Australian Police Officers Oliver, Anita, Wendy and Tanya will be on route to Japan preparing for an experience of a lifetime. They will be hiking the country’s tallest mountain – Mount Fuji, in an effort to raise funds for cancer research and honour their fallen friends.

The past two years have been difficult ones for the Kelmscott Local Police Team. They’ve had to watch two of their brothers in blue, Larry McCarthy and Gary Husain, lose their battle with cancer.

“We’re a really close-knit crew and have been working together for a number of years. It was really difficult losing our friends. They were both really hard working and loyal men. They were always doing their best for our community.”

Experienced hiker and Senior Sergeant, Oliver Lund, will be leading the team on their ascent. And as someone who has already successfully scaled one of the world’s most challenging summits – Mt Kilimanjaro, he will be the perfect man for the job.

“We’re taking on this challenge for a number of reasons. Not only is it going to be a great team-building exercise, but it will also be a really special way to remember our friends and raise funds for a cause that has affected us so deeply. Cancer is never too far from our minds as so many families in our community are facing the disease.”

They decided that Mount Fuji would be the safest for the crew of first-time hikers, but at 3776 meters above sea level, it’s still considered one of the more challenging climbs.

“It’ll require quite a lot of strength and endurance. We like to keep fit as possible for work, and participate in regular police training days – but we’ve all really stepped it up in preparation for the climb.”

“Depending on how the weather treats us we’re planning on setting off in the evening and planning our trek so that we will finally reach the peak at dawn. Watching the sunrise from the top will be such an amazing experience.”

The team hopes to raise awareness of the ACRF Fundraising program “The more people that know about the ACRF Online Fundraising Program, the greater the impact we can have so we’re doing everything we can!”

To show your support these brave officers click here.
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Running for S.T.E.F – Elderene is on a mission to Stop Tumours Ending Friendships

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Earlier this year, Stephanie Barker was preparing to run the Mackay half marathon when she realised something wasn’t right. Just days after running 10km, she was flown to Townsville for treatment for an aggressive grade four brain tumour.

“I was totally unaware of what it was to have a tumour, or a mass, or brain cancer, I am so lucky the emergency room doctor was able to stabilise me in Mackay. Once stable, I was flown to the Townsville Hospital where I underwent major brain surgery.”

Before the surgery, Stephanie’s brain tumour was the size of an orange, which meant that she could only spend two weeks at home over Easter before heading back to Townsville to undergo six more weeks of daily radiation and chemotherapy.

It was there she met Elderene, a Senior Radiation Therapist and soon to be friend. “We were surprised to find that we have so much in common, we are both originally from Africa and had spent time living in England before getting married and making the move to sunny Queensland.”

The similarities didn’t end there – Stef and Elderene also share a passion for running. “I had been training for the Mackay run before being diagnosed but, unfortunately, doctors advised me not to run.”

“Being the character that I am, I started joking that Elderene should run in my place.” What Stef didn’t know at the time was that Elderene had actually completed 22 full marathons. “Unlike me she’s a veteran of distance – I’m in awe of her as I have to drag myself over the line in a half marathon.” Elderene assured her that 42.2km is nothing compared to having to battle a grade four brain tumour.”

A few days later, Elderene had some big news for Stef, “Elderene was bursting with excitement as she told me that she had been given a spot in the 2016 London Marathon, and that she would be running for me!”

“I am still stunned, so overwhelmed! Elderene had taken me so seriously that she is now going to travel 16,000km at her expense to run for me in the London Marathon.”

‘S.T.E.F’ became an inspiring acronym for the ‘Running for Stef’ Fundraising Campaign: Stop Tumours Ending Friendships. Elderene explained that raising money and awareness made her feel like she was playing her part.

“I want to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime and my aim is to raise $10,000 for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation for Stef and the thousands of people who are battling cancer.”

Click here to support Elderene.

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The ACRF Cancer Imaging Facility officially opens its doors today to researchers in Western Australia

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Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is opening the doors today to the ACRF Cancer Imaging Facility, a state of the art imaging centre that has been outfitted with cutting edge technology to enable further breakthroughs in cancer research.

The facility was funded in part by the late Mr Kevin McCusker who made a generous donation to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation through his Will. Mr McCusker was a quiet and unassuming man of strong principles who made this bequest in honour of all the people he loved and lost to cancer.

As a state facility, the equipment will be made available to researchers from all over Western Australia. What this means for cancer patients is that for the first time in WA, researchers will be able to subject cancerous tumours to more intensive scrutiny, and thereby speed up the development of new therapeutic advances.

“Imaging for cancer management and diagnosis in humans is fundamental. These micro-scanners will allow Perkins researchers to image cancer progression in a range of well-developed preclinical models like never before, enabling them to monitor for the first time tumour development, angiogenesis (the process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels), metastasis (or growth) and response to treatments” says Peter Leedman, Director of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

Harry Perkins sees ACRF is absolutely essential in filling a gap that no other foundation fills, which is providing funds for core infrastructure.

“Large cutting-edge pieces of equipment such as the ones at this new facility are remarkably difficult to get in any other way. The ACRF stands alone in this country so we are very grateful to have been able to work with them to attain this final result. It’s allowed us to take an exciting step forward in our field,” says Mr. Leedman.

The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has received $3.6 million in grants from the ACRF which has funded technology to progress research in Leukaemia, breast, prostate, cervical, pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, colon as well as head and neck cancers.

New discovery a sign of hope for melanoma patients

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After four years of dedicated research, PhD student Mitchell Stark has made a remarkable discovery at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, a facility which has been awarded three grants from the ACRF. He has uncovered new markers which will help increase the speed, accuracy and accessibility of tests that monitor the progression of Melanoma.

Mr. Stark’s study has revealed that elevated levels of microRNA’s, which are tiny molecules that regulate the amount of protein in a gene, can indicate that the cancer is at risk of spreading.

“They are highly sensitive and specific, and are significantly better than markers currently being used,” says Mr. Stark. “In specimens from stage IV patients, the new biomarkers confirmed tumour progression in 100% of cases.”

Mr. Stark said this is significant because it will allow patients to start treatment before metastatic disease is clinically evident, which could greatly improve a patient’s chance of survival.

“Patients with stage III melanoma, with spread confined to regional lymph nodes, have a five-year survival rate of about 50%, compared to less than 15% if metastases are widespread.”

In addition to the accuracy, another positive is the method in which the testing is done. All that is required from a patient for the markers to be detected is a routine blood test. This will better identify the group of patients that require additional expensive and stressful tests such as CT scans.

Queensland Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said the research represents a significant advance for melanoma patients.

“This is an excellent example of the world-leading research at QIMR Berghofer which has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of patients in Queensland and around 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 AIMR Berghofer Medical Research website.

Where one daughter leads, her mother follows – an inspiring distance runner shares her story

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“I truly believe we will beat cancer, possibly in my lifetime.” – Professor Anne Boyd.

Professor Boyd is 69 years young and discovered her passion for distance running only a few short years ago. This has led her to not only become a great advocate for cancer research, raising both funds and awareness, but it has also led her to win the Sydney Striders F65-69 Marathon trophy and become the Southern Highlands Challenge poster girl!

Her love affair with running began back in 2013, when she decided that, in celebration of her 67th Birthday, she would compete in her first 5K run at the Australian Running Festival in Canberra.

Two years later, she has become a dedicated running enthusiast and has completed a number of challenging races including City2Surf, four Half Marathons, the Melbourne Marathon and numerous other competitive10Ks.

“I’ve loved every step, even the more painful ones. I enjoy mid-race conversations with other runners and play up photo opportunities! A camera is always worth a grin and a grin helps deal with any fatigue issues which might be building up. Although there is real pleasure in achieving a personal best, my only important aim in a run is to finish,” says Anne.

Anne sees the sport as a really great way to raise funds for a cause that touches all our lives.

“I am personally so grateful for advances in cancer research. I’ve had tests detect precancerous polyps, which I had removed, and a recent breast scan that detected a small lump which was quickly determined not to be of any danger. These advances, of course, are bought about through the research that has made such great strides in my lifetime. But it needs everyone’s support, so I’m really happy that I can do my part and run for this cause.”

Anne’s daughter, Helen Louise is a huge supporter of her mum’s new found hobby and has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement to her since the beginning. As a distance runner herself, she became her mum’s go-to for knowledge on all things running and even ran alongside Anne in her very first race, helping her to achieve third place in her age division.

“My darling daughter ran with me as a warm-up for her serious event the next day and was rewarded with considerable grumpiness from her hot and bothered mother during the final kilometres! But to finish was a joy! She has played a key role in my new found passion, so now, where she leads, I follow.”

To support Anne at this year’s City to Surf, click here.

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Using your talent to raise funds for cancer research

Every one of us has a unique set of talents, and our mission at the ACRF is to support Australia’s top cancer researchers to do what they do best.

It’s not easy to find the motivation to explore your strengths and creativity, but raising funds to help the experts find new treatments and cures for cancer might be just the inspiration you need! To help get your started, see what some of our supporters are doing.

MusicMusic icon

May Carrick is a police officer by day and a musician who records his albums by night, dedicating all proceeds to cancer research in honour of his father whom he lost to cancer two years ago. May first began writing music to help him cope. Check out his latest album here.

ArtPaint icon

Mikaela Designs is an amazingly talented sketch artist who recently showcased her work in honour of her late friend Casey. Her artwork was auctioned off to the highest bidder at an exhibition that she organised for cancer research.

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Kirin Matthews is the founder of Jewellery for a Cause – a jewellery company with a passion for supporting charitable organisations and important causes. She donates 20% of each piece to charities such as the ACRF. View one of her latest creations here.

If you’re still not sure what type of charity fundraising you want to do, you can visit our A-Z fundraising page for more fun ideas on how you can make the most of your own unique talents.

Alone, on foot, across the Simpson Desert, Ian Vickers is pushing himself to the limit for cancer research

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In the next few days, Ian Vickers will be venturing out into the Australian outback to start his journey across the harsh terrain of the Simpson Desert. He will be travelling over 400 kms by foot – hauling his food and water supplies on a custom built cart.

“I’ve been flat out the past week with last minute preparations, all is going well, feeling fit, strong and confident with a healthy dash of nervousness,” says Ian.

He has chosen to dedicate this challenge to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

“There are many worthy charities whose name I could have chosen to support, however I lost both my parents to cancer far too early in their life, so it felt right to pick a charity that is dedicated to finding cures for this terrible disease. In fact, I believe that the success of my adventure will not only be measured by the completion of my walk but also in my ability to raise funds and awareness for cancer research.”

Ian says he’s enjoyed every step of the journey so far. He has already invested an incredible amount of time and effort leading up to his quest, with the initial planning and preparations starting back in May of last year.

“I literally walked the soles off a pair of old boots during one of my training sessions earlier in the year! I had a good friend of mine build a training rig consisting of scaffold poles and car tires that I could hook up to my new harness to drag up and down the beach.”

And with all the hard miles put in he could not be more ready to embark on this remarkable adventure.

“I’m relishing the new skills I’ve acquired along the way. I have a plan B, C or D for almost every eventuality should I run in to trouble along the way. But I have to credit all the support from friends, family and strangers alike, there’s no way I could have done this without them.”

We are all very excited (not to mention a little bit anxious) for Ian, and wish the best of luck as he sets out to accomplish this extraordinary feat.

To support Ian’s journey, visit his Everyday Hero Page here.

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Researchers expose how ‘James Bond’ cells are made to boost our immune system against cancer.

Our determination to understand how our bodies operate continues to reveal fascinating intricacies.

New research published in the journal of Nature Immunology exemplifies this. In the study, researchers from the ACRF funded Walter and Eliza Hall Institute reveal how immune cell ‘spies’ are created.

These dendritic cells, or ‘James Bond’ cells gather information on disease-causing agents to aid our bodies in fighting them.

“Dendritic cells are the intelligence-gathering cells that educate the immune system,” said Dr Naik from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

“They tell the infection-fighting T cells and NK cells what a virus, bacterium, fungus or cancer looks like so they know what they’re looking for when fighting disease”.

Prior to this discovery, it was thought that dendritic cells shared one ‘parent’. But researchers have found that we actually have an army of unique ‘parent’ cells that decide whether or not to multiply or generate new dendritic cells to help identify and fight disease.

What this new knowledge provides us with are clues on how the immune system could be manipulated to better fight disease. In examining and understanding at a molecular level how our body naturally fights diseases, we can then single out the cells that are doing the right thing and suppress any ‘James Bond’ cells that are aiming at the wrong target.

This discovery could not have been achieved without cutting-edge technology that allows scientists to single out individual immune cells, rather than try to examine thousands at once.

“We and others have been following this family tree from one daughter cell to the next to discover how each cell type is created and how the parent cell ‘decides’ if it should make more of itself or create the next cell type. By dissecting the heritage of these cells, we can find new targets to tackle a range of conditions including infectious diseases, cancers and immune disorders, and even make vaccines more effective,” says Dr Shalin Naik.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has received $5.5 million in grants from the ACRF which has funded technology to progress research in lymphoma, breast, lung and genomics.

The original article was published the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research website. To read the original article, please click here.

Genetic sequencing in Australia could revolutionise cancer diagnostics

It is being called ‘the frontier of medical science”’.

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The potential to pre-empt cancer diagnosis with genetic testing has taken a major step forward following the first Australian NATA* accreditation for ‘whole exome sequencing’.

SA Pathology’s Genetics and Molecular Pathology laboratory, in collaboration with the Centre for Cancer Biology’s ACRF genomic research facility, have received this important stamp of approval to test the complete set of human genes in a single assay, using cutting-edge Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) Technology.

Professor Hamish Scott, Director of the ACRF Cancer Genome Facility at SA Pathology’s Centre for Cancer Biology explains: “In human DNA there are six billion data points, 2% of them are our genes, which can be sequenced in an ‘exome’. We’re searching through over a hundred million bases to try and find an anomaly or a mutation that may be causing disease.”

This landmark accreditation rewards many years of research dedication and collaboration between research and funding bodies, including the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Dr Karin Kassahn, Head of Technology Advancement says, “With this new approach, genetic tests will take months, not years, and see an end to some of the uncertainty – there will be definitive results for more patients.”

“These technologies weren’t available a decade ago, but now genomics is set to play a major role in medical treatment. If we get this right, genetic testing will become an integral part of health care, available to everyone in need.”

Professor Scott has said that unfortunately many rare genetic conditions still don’t have an effective treatment or cure.

“But if we can pick these things up, we may be able to alleviate symptoms with new therapies and help patients and families manage their disorders,” he said.

“This is the future of healthcare, what’s known as ‘personalised’ or ‘precision’ medicine.”

The ACRF is proud to have supported the world-class research teams at SA Pathology, Centre for Cancer Biology. We thank our donors and fundraisers for their dedication to cancer research, without which, this important progress would not have been possible.

This information was originally published by SA Pathology and can be viewed here.

*NATA is the National Association of Testing Authorities in Australia. It ensures facilities, testing and measurement methods comply with relevant international and Australian standards.

A man honours his hero, best friend and father

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“I have chosen to become a Partner in the Cure due to the recent passing of my father, Stan Phillips, at age 76. My father was a major influence on me and truly was a great man. He lived his life to the fullest and touched the hearts of many. He lived a long life, but for me his passing still came too soon, I was hoping he would be around longer to see his two grandchildren grow up.

He was very fit and I think he would have had years left if it wasn’t for cancer. It was a shock when he had to be rushed to hospital and we discovered he had bowel cancer. He fought a hard battle for three years right up until he passed, and through it all he was positive, smiling and enjoying life.

He was a real family man who put us first and was more concerned with my family than his own struggle. He worked hard to give us every opportunity in life and rarely treated himself. He was my mentor, training partner and best friend. The way he lived his life and fought cancer is why he is my role model; I will be happy if I can live up to just half of his standards and I hope I can pass this attitude to life onto my children. It’s amazing what a perfect father he was especially when he lost his own in the 2nd World War at the age of four.

His determination in life led him to be successful in several different careers, starting out as a carpenter, then serving in the Elite Parachute Regiment, and finally becoming a construction site manager. He was also wonderful husband to my mother Margret. Today would have been their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Karate was one of his favourite hobbies. He trained for eight years earning his black belt in 1983 and only stopping a few months prior to his passing when he became too ill. The club he belonged to now awards a trophy in his name.

He requested that people make donations to cancer research in lieu of bringing flowers to his funeral. He believed, as I do, that if we can contribute to the advancement for a cure it will one day save my children or grandchildren from this terrible disease,” Nathan Phillips.

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No wrapping required for gifts that keep on giving – Heather & Craig share their wedding story

Heather and Craig

With many modern couples now living together and making a home before they tie the knot, some are starting to think creatively about wedding gift ideas. If you are one of these couples who are newly engaged (congratulations!) and wondering whether you really need another toaster, we have a story to share with you that might inspire you to do something a little different at your wedding.

Heather and Craig met each other a lifetime ago. They both had families and were living happily, separately, in rural NSW.

When cancer claimed the lives of Craig’s late wife and Heather’s mother, they didn’t yet have each other to lean on. But a stroke of fate brought the two together, and they discovered an unmistakable connection.

It was at a food and wine ball in their hometown that they started a conversation that would turn into something completely unexpected. Their budding relationship brought two families together and challenged the grief that cancer left behind with new love.

Craig’s timing was perfect. He took Heather up in a helicopter and as they flew over a stunning view of Hillgrove, he proposed.

Memory Well

They were married at their house in Glenn Innes and started a new chapter in both their lives. To remember the loved ones they had lost, Heather and Craig created a Memory Well at the wedding where guests could donate to cancer research.

Heather and Craig’s wedding donations idea was a celebration of not just their love, but for the love of those who surround them and those who have shaped their lives.

“We would love other people to do the same thing. We have lost family members to cancer so to us there is no greater gift than a world without cancer.”

If you want to invest in the future of your loved ones at your wedding by funding cancer research – either in lieu of gifts, or wedding favours (bonbonniere) – you can find more information here: https://acrf.com.au/wedding-donations

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It’s Volunteer week!

As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Here at the ACRF we are lucky to meet so many wonderful people who live this mantra. From marathon runners, to head shavers, to gala dinners and everything in between, we get to watch people’s own strength and creativity shine in all their efforts towards raising funds for cancer research.

Our most dedicated volunteer groups are known as Cancerians Committees. Together these event-based charity volunteers have raised millions of dollars for world-class cancer research by organising annual events in their local area. Click here to take a look at our amazingly dedicated Cancerians.

We are also incredibly fortunate to have a number of volunteers who give their time to help end cancer, by helping out in our office.

We wanted to take a moment to share some of their stories with you.


Lisa Sliteris: “It is an easy task to acknowledge the need for change, but it is more the action taken after this that determines the outcome. By volunteering, it gives you the chance to take such action for a cause that you are passionate about. I chose to volunteer for the ACRF as I wanted to be part of a positive goal directed and committed team. Their ambitious and hard work has had a major influence for cancer research, and I hope that through my volunteer work, I can contribute to future their accomplishments.”




Duncan Innes: “Why volunteer for ACRF? Well, apart from the fact that cancer is likely to affect one in two men personally during their lifetime, my Mum, my favourite boss and my mother-in-law have all been cancer patients. My grandad died of stomach cancer 50 years ago, too.

When I started my career as a hospital administrator, bone marrow transplant was experimental: four out of five leukaemia patients didn’t survive. Now, four out of five kids do survive. So that tells you how important cancer research is, and how it is a long-term game. Contributing my time and my skills to that is definitely a worthwhile thing to do!”


Volunteer week - Sayako & her nephewV2

Sayako Inoue: “My sister found out she had thyroid cancer when she became pregnant with her first child. Thanks to the latest treatments she was able to receive, she has been well and my nephew is turning five this year. I thank ACRF for giving me the opportunity to invest my time in the cause I believe in.”

A big thank you again to all the volunteers out there, we get closer every day to ending cancer because of you.

If you would like to find out more about how you can volunteer with the ACRF, click here.



Why do so many people run for a cause? One runner tells his story.

running for charity, cancer research, brain cancer, types of cancer, funding research, running for cancer, online fundraising, marathons, city2surf, fighting cancer

Today it seems that everyone (and their dog) is running a fun run, half or full marathon. But what the growing numbers don’t say is how hard it actually is to finish a race. They don’t tell you that there is something special you need, right out of the gate, in order to have a shot at finishing what you’ve started.

You need something that will keep you going when your body is pleading with you to give up.

For most, this will be a cause that is bigger than they are. For Jonathan Weiner it’s the thought of his cousin. Having lost Michelle to cancer, Jonathan became determined to do something to honour her memory and make a difference. It’s fuelled his fire to run in this year’s City2Surf in August.

Jonathan says “I am going to keep a promise that I made her. I promised Michelle that I would do everything in my power to find a cure for this devastating disease, and this is my first step in keeping that promise.”

“Although my cousin died of brain cancer, many different types of cancers have affected my family, which is why I chose to raise funds for the ACRF. It is a way for me to help fund research in all types of cancer,” says Jonathan.

People from all over the world are joining forces to help Jonathan reach his goal of raising $18,000 for cancer research and support him in his journey to honour his cousin.

To get behind Jonathan in his cancer fun run please click here.

To see how you can embark on your own running challenge here.

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New screening technique developed to detect ‘silent’ ovarian cancers early.

Cancer scientists, UNSW, cancer research, discoveries, current cancer research, ovarian cancer, funding research, detection, diagnosis, advancement
University of NSW Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs. Image source: UNSW Newsroom


Ovarian cancer is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’, with around one hundred thousand women succumbing to the disease globally each year. Symptoms can be very vague, and the disease often spreads before the cancer can be found.

But there is new hope for early detection. The latest results from a clinical trial led by UNSW Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ian Jacobs, in collaboration with University College London, have shown a novel new screening method can identify twice as many women with ovarian cancer as existing strategies.

The new screening programme allows researchers to better interpret the changing levels of a specific protein called CA125 (which has been linked to ovarian cancer) through a blood test, giving a highly accurate prediction of a woman’s individual risk.

“The sensitivity is very, very high – much higher than people thought would be possible,” said Professor Jacobs. The new method detected cancer in 86% of women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (iEOC).

Previous methods, which detected just 41%, would only raise concern once the concentration of this protein had passed a fixed threshold. The problem with this was that certain women with high levels didn’t actually have cancer, while others with levels below the threshold did.

Professor Jacobs says, “What’s normal for one woman may not be so for another. It is the change in levels of this protein that’s important.”

The trial involved over two-hundred thousand post-menopausal women aged 50 or over and was the largest of its kind to date in the world.

“My hope is that when the results of UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening are available, this approach will prove capable of detecting ovarian cancer early enough to save lives.”

Prof. Jacobs’ team are awaiting further test results later this year before the method has proved capable of detecting ovarian cancer early enough to save lives. If these results are positive, Prof. Jacobs says the method will likely be adopted in an annual screening program.

This article was originally published on UNSW Newsroom, to read the full article click here.

Chris runs a marathon of marathons to support those fighting cancer

Marathons, running, cancer, cancer research, acrf, donations, charity

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Australia with an estimated 43,700 people succumbing to it each year.*

So what can one person do help so many who are fighting cancer?

Adelaide local, Chris Glacken answers with “anything and everything you can,” and has challenged himself to run 24 marathons in 24 months to help raise funds for cancer research.

Several of Chris’ close friends and family members, including his father, have been recently diagnosed with cancer. This motivated him to find a way to join in their battle against this terrible disease.

His mission now, for his 24 marathon conquest, is to have the “courage to start, strength to endure, and resolve to finish”.

“This may be a tough and expensive gig but the satisfaction gained from having a go at raising much needed funds for the ACRF makes it all worthwhile,” says Chris.

This adventure is just one of many fundraising efforts that he and his wife Grace have organised over the years, raising around $4,200. His target for marathon donations this year is $15,000. And if he reaches his target, Chris, his wife, and their incredible supporters will have contributed a whopping $20,000.00 in just a few years: fighting cancer through research.

Chris began his marathon of marathons last year at the Cadbury Hobart Marathon in January and will continue to participate in races across the country with his final race ending in Portland, Victoria in November 2015.

His every step is helping cancer scientists get closer to preventing, diagnosing and finding a cure for cancer, so we encourage anyone and everyone to cheer him on!

To follow him on his journey or to donate click here.

* https://acrf.com.au/on-cancer/cancer-statistics-australia/ (2015)


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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. 

Brave head shaves raise funds and honour loved ones.

charity challengeOver the past few months we’ve had some very brave supporters choose to lose their long locks in support and honour of loved ones.

Last year, Cristelle should have been happily celebrating her 26th birthday. Instead her family were rocked by the news that Cristelle’s mother had been diagnosed with breast and lung cancer.

Motivated by her mother’s strength and determination during her surgery and treatments, Cristelle grew her beautiful long hair even longer in order to cut it for charity in December.

Cristelle said, “I have been inspired to grow my hair to make a wig for someone who has lost their hair, just like my Mum did. She is such a strong woman, a fighter.”

On top of cutting and donating her hair, Cristelle also chose to fundraise for cancer research smashing her $2,500 target and raising a most generous $6,914!

Another recent head shave took place just after one of WA’s most famous swim events: the Rottnest Channel Swim.

Cabe Paparone and his three mates took on the challenging swim and, although they were met with some pretty rough conditions, managed to finish in seven hours and 41 minutes. What a fantastic effort!

Cabe’s (very excited) friends and family then took to the clippers to shave off that mane he had been growing for 3 years, in honour and memory of his father who sadly passed away in September.

Through a giant fundraising effort, which saw him organise fundraising events in the lead up to his swim, Cabe raised over $7,500 for cancer research! What a legend!

We’d like to thank Cristelle and Cabe for such an amazing effort. We are inspired and humbled by their dedication and generosity

If you are interested in fundraising for cancer research through shaving, cutting or colouring your hair please click here for more information.

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Boot scootin’ for Misty Molly Muffin raises funds to help end cancer.

47a4cc01b3127cce98548b87da4d00000015100RcNGzRq4aYSome boot scootin’ fun has led to a most generous fundraising event, in memory of a beloved pet.

Misty Molly Muffin, the Silkyhuahua, sadly passed away in 2014 and in her memory the owners of line-dancing studio, Bossy Boots Dancin’ Fun, raised a most generous $6,000 for cancer research in Australia.

Throughout 2014, David and Janene Lawson organised a series of fun line-dancing socials, with a portion of the door entry, and profits from the raffles helping to speed up cancer research discoveries.

But David and Janene didn’t stop there, they also organised fundraising at their annual Cruisin’ Country event, as well as at the Sydney Country Music Festival, and they also collected some extremely generous donations from their students.

Over the years, Bossy Boots Dancin’ Fun have danced up a storm in fundraising events, contributing a total of $9,320 to cancer research since 2010. We couldn’t be more grateful for their ongoing support.

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies for the loss of Misty Molly Muffin and also say thank you so very much to David, Janene, their most generous students and all those who attended their socials.

We’re very humbled by their generosity and thank them very much for their support.

To see photos from the Cruisin’ Country event please visit the Bossy Boots Dancin’ Fun website here.

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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
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.

New Year. New Goals. Welcome to 2015.

Calendar with booksWe’re so excited to be starting off 2015 with some great opportunities for supporters to get involved in and help reach those New Year’s resolutions!

If you’re interested in bringing some positive karma to your 2015, read up on some of our great fundraising opportunities below:

Lose it

In 2014 we saw many brave, wonderful supporters shave or cut off their lovely long hair to help raise funds for cancer research. Many of our head-shave heroes did so in support of loved ones battling cancer, or in memory of those they have sadly lost.

They raised an incredible amount for cancer research in Australia and many, in addition to this most generous act of bravery, donated their lovely hair to the Beautiful Lengths program, which makes wigs for patients currently being treated for cancer.

So, if you feel like you’re due for a change in the hair department, why not make a fundraising goal out of it? You can read more about our head-shave program here.

Move it

Many people add at least one health and fitness goal to their New Year’s resolutions. Fitness fundraising doesn’t have to be about running a marathon – there are so many other ways you can be active while raising funds for cancer research!

This year we have a fantastic, and very exclusive, opportunity for 10 fundraisers to travel to France and take on one of the stages of the world famous Tour de France! The ACRF is the only Australian charity providing spots in L’Etape du Tour.

If cycling isn’t one of your strengths, that’s ok – we have so many fitness and endurance events coming up! Take a look at our events calendar to see what’s on.

Plan it

If you’re not much of a fitness event lover, but feel like you still want to do something, put your events planning skills to the test and organise a fundraising event for cancer research!

From local events such as a true-blue Aussie sausage sizzle, to big fancy gala balls, the sky is the limit when it comes to what you want to do to help put an end to cancer for future generations.

Our wonderful fundraising team is always available to talk through any ideas you may have and help you organise or sort through the nitty-gritty details. 

Work it

Many of us working full-time can find it hard to create time outside of work to help our favourite causes. But did you know that by simply opting to donate on a regular basis you’ll be providing our amazing cancer researchers with a stable future to continue their life-saving work?

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to give back to the community in 2015 why not sign up to be a Workplace Giver?

And if work isn’t on the cards, but you still like the sound of regular gifts to cancer research, you can sign up as an ACRF Partner in the Cure. Our regular giving program is a great way to ensure you’re doing your part to help end cancer.

Whatever your goals for 2015 may be, we wish you a happy, peaceful and prosperous year and thank you very much for your dedication to helping us reach our goal – to end cancer for good.

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.

Cabe to lose his locks after Rottnest fundraising swim.

Cabe imageThe Rottnest Channel Swim in WA is set to end its 25th event with a very close shave.

Cabe Paparone, at just 23 years old, has decided the February 2015 swim will be the day he loses his lovely locks that he has been growing for the last three years.

Cabe had originally decided to compete in the 2012 swim. However, when Cabe’s dad Claude was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer, he withdrew to help his dad instead.

Very sadly, Claude passed away aged 52 in September this year.

“On what will almost be three years to the day that dad was diagnosed, I will be swimming the 2015 Rottnest Swim in a team with three other mates and shaving my hair once we have completed the crossing,” said Cabe.

Once Cabe and his team of three other mates complete the 19.7km swim, he will have his head shaved on the beach.

“As soon as he got sick I decided to grow it,” Cabe said. “I was only going to grow it for a year, but thought no one would donate any money so I’d better keep on growing it.”

Cabe already has several eager volunteers putting their hands up to take part in the chop. Behind the clippers will be Cabe’s sister Romy, and brothers Marco and Jack.

Cabe told us his reason for supporting cancer research is because “we would like to contribute to research that assists people living with cancer to achieve the best care and treatment available.”

We’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to Cabe and his family for their loss, but also say a very big thank you taking on two amazing challenges in the New Year.

Thank you Cabe.

For more information you can see Cabe’s fundraising page here.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

From all of us here at the ACRF, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy and safe holiday this Christmas. Whatever you may be doing we hope you are surrounded by lots of laughter and smiles.

Because of you, our amazing supporters, we surpassed $100 million in grants funding this year –   what a great way to end 2014! We’re looking forward to an even better 2015, helping cancer researchers in their mission to end cancer.

Please note we will be taking a short break over the Christmas holiday, with our office closing at COB Tuesday 23 December, 2014 and reopening on Monday 5 January, 2015.

If you would like to get a kick-start on those good 2015 vibes, please feel free to donate via our secure web portal where our online donation elves will be working hard to process your Christmas donations and issue your receipts ASAP.

As a final thank you for all your support this year we’ve put together this short video below. We look forward to staying in touch throughout 2015.


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


#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?


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.


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.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zmt9AEFv1o”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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]

Norm “Bugs off” for the very last time.

1534775_722288464517659_156405772683906801_oThe Bug Off Cancer beetle that we’ve all come to love has, this week, set off on it’s very last Bug Off Cancer fundraising journey.

This time Norm and his support team have headed south to Tassy to take in the beautiful scenery of Australia’s apple isle, and for a whirlwind week of fundraising with the locals.

Before leaving home, Norm had already raised over $5,000 for cancer research in Australia and he hopes to reach $10,000 by the end of his journey. If he achieves his target, Norm’s total fundraising efforts will stand at almost $40,000!

Norm started his Bug Off Cancer fundraising mission five years ago when he decided he wanted to do something, anything, to help rid the world of this terrible disease.

Having lost both parents and other relatives to cancer over the years, and knowing others that have this insidious disease, Norm decided to combine his love of VW beetles with a fundraising idea and Bug Off Cancer was created.

As Norm travels back to Sydney we’d like to wish him all the best on this last leg of his journey and send out a massive congratulations for his efforts in fundraising such an incredible amount for cancer research in Australia.

The ACRF is always proud of, and very humbled by, our fundraisers and their dedication to support such a cause. To Norm, we thank you for everything you have done to help the ACRF fight cancer and wish the Bug Off Cancer Beetle a very happy retirement![/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]

New Hope for Sufferers of Ovarian Cancer

New_Hope_Ovarian_CancerAustralian experts say new drug developments and individualised treatments are bolstering efforts to improve the prognosis for patients with epithelial ovarian cancer.

Professor Martin Oehler, Director of the Department of Gynaecological Oncology at Royal Adelaide Hospital, said the past 20 years had seen little improvement in the detection and treatment of ovarian cancer, but there are now many advances in the pipeline and the research community is ‘very positive and hopeful’.

Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer and develops in the epithelium, which is the surface of the ovary. There are currently no tests effective enough for a population based screening program for ovarian cancer, and symptoms can often be vague making early diagnosis difficult.

International research efforts have been focused on early detection, and although technical limitations had so far prevented the development of a blood test to detect ovarian cancer researchers are now looking to the disease’s immune signature to aid early detection.

Oncologist Dr Anne Hamilton from the ACRF-funded research institute Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre said ‘the building blocks’ were now starting to fall into place and new drug therapies were showing promise. The Australian Ovarian Cancer Study, for which Dr Hamilton is a scientific advisor, is studying the genetic changes leading to the formation of cancers.

“The study has already identified subgroups of ovarian cancer and what that’s giving us now is an ability to try to tailor treatment to six different types of ovarian cancer rather than one.” Dr Hamilton said.

Researchers have realised that ovarian cancer is a very heterogeneous disease consisting of distinct subtypes of different origin that vary significantly with regard to molecular biology and clinical behaviour. With this increased knowledge, the hope is for the development of more innovative and targeted treatments.[/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]

‘Liquid’ cancer test to replace invasive biopsies

Peter MacCallum Cancer CentreA ‘liquid biopsy’ developed by Melbourne researchers has the potential to determine whether malignant tumours are shrinking, faster and more accurately than ever before. This simple new test would replace invasive tissue biopsies by analysing cancer tumour DNA in the blood.

Clinician researcher Dr Sarah-Jane Dawson from ACRF-funded research institute Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre said looking for this circulating tumour DNA in blood had been like ‘looking for a needle in a haystack’. However new-generation genetic sequencing allows a complete snapshot of the cancer to be captured as it evolves.

“As the cancer cells turn over they release their DNA into the bloodstream. While we’ve known this for some time, it’s only been recently with advances in genomic technologies that we now have sensitive techniques that allow us to very precisely identify this small fraction of tumour DNA in the blood.”

“We think this is a really exciting development and it does hold a lot of promise for making a big difference to the management of cancer patients.” Dr Dawson said.

A clinical trial testing the liquid biopsy in Victorian breast cancer patients is due to begin next year.

Dr Dawson said in an ideal world, regular biopsies would be taken during someone’s treatment. But often that’s not feasible, and it’s invasive.

“By repeating these blood tests regularly, they may give us a very accurate understanding of whether someone is responding to their treatment or not — which is very important for a woman to understand.”

“She doesn’t want to be on a treatment that’s not working, or be exposed unnecessarily to side-effects, when she could be switched to a therapy that could be more effective,” Dr Dawson said.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Professor Haber wins NSW Cancer Researcher of the Year

Prof-M-Haber-WebThe annual Cancer Institute NSW’s Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research were awarded last Friday evening at Sydney Town Hall and we are extremely proud to announce that ACRF Medical Research Advisory Committee member Professor Michelle Haber AM has been awarded the Outstanding Cancer Researcher Award for 2014. 

This prestigious award honours an individual who has made significant and fundamental contributions to any field of cancer research in NSW, and comes with a prize of $50,000 to further the recipient’s research endeavours.

Professor Haber is the Executive Director of the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, and has previously been awarded the Excellence in Translational Research Award at the Premier’s Awards in 2012. She is internationally recognised for her world-class research into the treatment of neuroblastoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children.

We are very proud to count Professor Haber as a member of the ACRF Medical Research Advisory Committee. Committee members are cancer scientists of the highest national and, in many cases, global repute.

They are leaders in Australian cancer research and advise the ACRF on applications received for ACRF grants funding, making recommendations to the Board of Trustees of ACRF as to where grants should be awarded for maximum impact and innovation in cancer prevention, diagnosis and cure.

Excellence in children’s cancer research was further recognised on the night with the Premier’s Rising Star Award and the Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow of the Year going to members of the Kids Cancer Alliance.

Associate Professor Georgina Long from the Melanoma Institute Australia was awarded the Wildfire Award, and collaborations working in haematological clinical research and asbestos research were also acknowledged for their efforts in their fields.

Nikki and Joey – Fundraising for a Friend

Here at ACRF we are extremely humbled to have such fantastic and loyal supporters that continue to go above andNikki_Joey_Sarah_Web beyond in their efforts to raise money for cancer research. Sadly, many of our supporters have been touched by cancer personally, and their heartbreak and grief are what drives them to make a difference in the hope that nobody has to experience what they’ve gone through.

We’re incredibly humbled to share with you Nikki and Joey’s story – a story which has driven two ladies to fight cancer through research, in memory of their friend.

Last year Nikki and Joey met Sarah, a girl from America who was interning at Baseball Australia, where Nikki worked. The three girls hit it off instantly. Sarah was bubbly, happy and had a zest for life.

After returning home to Philadelphia, Sarah was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma – a rare type of bone cancer that usually occurs in children and young adults.

“It was such a shock when we found out and it made us want to make a difference, even if it was small,” Nikki and Joey wrote when they found out about Sarah’s cancer.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer and there is still so much more research to be done. Sarah is a strong individual and we know she will kick cancers butt.”

The girls set themselves the challenge of running the half marathon in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival in September, and they’ve already smashed their fundraising efforts by more than doubling their target so far. Feel free to click on the above link to view their fundraising page and add a message of support.

In the midst of their training, Nikki planned to visit Sarah in Philadelphia to boost her spirits while she was receiving treatment. However in a heartbreaking turn of events, Sarah’s condition deteriorated and she passed away a few days before Nikki arrived. At her funeral, Nikki met all of Sarah’s family and friends and through her grief decided that she wanted to plan another event to raise as much money as possible for cancer research.

Together with their Mum, Nikki and Joey are now busily organising their fundraising event for next month, so keep your eyes on our Events Calendar where we’ll bring you all the details of the night very soon. We’d like to thank Nikki and Joey for sharing this story with us, and send our condolences for their terrible loss.[/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.

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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.

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Half marathon runners raise over $83K for cancer research in Aus!

12,000 runners hit the pavement on Sunday for the 23rd annual Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon

Competitors, geared up for their 21.1 km journey, were seen off by official event ambassador Stephanie Rice, who fired the starting gun.

Runners were presented with a beautiful morning in Sydney as they raced, jogged or walked their way from St Mary’s Cathedral, past some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation was lucky enough to have 83 dedicated runners choose to be a part of the ACRF Half marathon team! And what a fantastic job they all did!

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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”

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Newly-discovered gene linked to oesophageal cancer leads to potential new treatments

A newly-discovered gene linked to oesophageal cancer holds the promise of new treatments for this notoriously difficult-to-fight disease.

Researchers at Cambridge University in the UK have found a gene called TRIM44 which plays a key role in the development of oesophageal cancer. The discovery of this gene has also led to finding the disease’s key driver.

The new research has revealed that when multiple copies (called over-expressions) of the TRIM44 gene are found in a patient this leads to higher activity of the mTOR gene, which regulates cell growth and division – a process that, when uncontrolled, can lead to cancer.

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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.

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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.

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Saying thank you to our cancer charity volunteers during National Volunteer Week

This week we celebrate the power of volunteering with National Volunteer Week in Australia.

We would like to highlight the value our cancer charity volunteers bring to our communities and society. We are very thankful, humbled and honoured when members of our community, a group or a corporate partner chooses to dedicate their time and effort into volunteering for us.

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