New blood cancer centre to improve patient outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.


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.

Fighting blood cancers with new therapies

ACRF, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, cancer charity, Cancer Research, Cancer Research Grants, cancer research fundraising, cancer scientists, charity foundation, current cancer research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Types of cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The moment that changed my family forever.

regular giving, cancer research, funding cancer research, cancer charity, charity foundation, ACRF, Types of Cancer, Leukaemia, cancer scientists, regular charity donations, cancer fundraising, donate to charity, give to charity, funding breakthroughs

“Back in 1998 my husband and I were like any other typical family. We had two sons, one aged four and eight. My husband, Craig, was an electrical engineer and Officer in the Navy. He was passionate about the Navy and his job at HMAS Albatross in Nowra. Craig was looking forward to being promoted and taking the next step in his career, while I was studying adult education and both our boys were involved in many sporting activities. We were no different than any other family.

April 1998 will be a month I will never forget. Craig had been complaining of not feeling well, having a sore throat and just feeling lethargic. Within one week Craig had been admitted to the oncology section of Wollongong hospital and diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Our world tipped upside down in a moment and I was trying to explain to a four and eight year old that their father was very sick and may not live. Craig was told that the only way he could live was with a bone marrow transplant and that he didn’t have much time. The chances of survival were given at 30%.

Craig endured chemotherapy which was quickly followed by a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately for Craig his identical triplet sisters were a match and one was selected as his donor. Hurdle one was achieved. The next step was to get into Westmead Hospital for the transplant and that was hurdle two. The transplant unit only took 6 patients at a time and we had to wait. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to wait.

Eight months were spent in and out of hospital however after the transplant it was found that Craig had suffered a complication from the transplant which affected his lungs. After many years with Craig’s lung problems he eventually passed away on 8 August 2002 at 38 years of age.

Throughout all the treatments and hospital visits there was one thing that Craig was passionate about and that was raising funds to find a cure for leukaemia, particularly in children. Craig felt that if he found the treatments hard to cope with, then small children with any type of cancer would be in a worse position.

I continue Craig’s passion for finding a cure for all cancers, which is why I have become a Partner in the Cure. The researchers and medical professionals working at ACRF are equally passionate about finding cures in the hope that people like Craig get to live a fulfilling life with their families. I’m proud to do my small part by regularly donating to the ACRF so that they can continue to fund breakthroughs in cancer research.

Cures for cancer can only come from research and if we all contribute a small amount this means that cancer research can continue in Australia,” Regular Giver of the Month – Dianne King.

Learn more about becoming a regular giver.

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New method of treating solid tumours discovered from existing research

Prof Scott accepting ACRF grant 2011 - 1 A team of international scientists from ACRF-funded research institutes Monash University and Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research have uncovered that an antibody against the protein EphA3, could potentially be applied to treat a wide range of different cancers.

The protein EphA3 was discovered in 1992 by Professor Andrew Boyd for its role in promoting leukaemia cancer cells and an anti-body is now in clinical trials to treat this mutation in leukaemias.

Further discoveries showed aggressive brain tumours could also be targeted by this therapy, which you can read about here. EphA3 is present in normal organs only during embryonic development but is released in blood cancers and solid tumours, fuelling cancer growth and providing a target for anti-bodies.

The research team led jointly by the late Professor Martin Lackmann, from the School of Biomedical Studies at Monash; and Professor Andrew Scott, from Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research used laboratory models of prostate cancer to mimic disease progression in humans.

EphA3 was found in stromal cells and blood vessels surrounding the tumour and they observed that treatment with an antibody against EhpA3 (chIIIA4) significantly slowed tumour growth. The antibody damaged tumour blood vessels and disrupted the stromal micro-environment, and cancer cells died because their ‘life-support’ was restricted.

Professor Scott said, “in addition, we screened various tumours from patient biopsies – sarcomas, melanomas as well as prostate, colon, breast, brain and lung cancers – and confirmed EphA3 expression on stromal cells and newly forming blood vessels.”

“Our research findings indicate that the tumour micro-environment is important, and monoclonal antibodies against EphA3 are one way to target and kill a variety of solid tumours as well as blood cancer.”

[Pictured above: Professor Andrew Scott from Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research receiving a recent ACRF grant of $2 million.][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

New targeted research could offer alternative treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

Michael_ParkerACRF-funded research teams across Australia have collaborated to develop a remarkable new treatment option for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and accelerate it into clinical trials.

AML is a particularly aggressive form of cancer with poor survival rates; although chemotherapy can induce remission there is often a high chance of relapse. However, this new research, published in major international journal Cell Reports, details how a newly developed therapeutic antibody (CSL362) binds to the cancer cells and then recruits the body’s immune system to kill the cancer cells.

Continue reading “New targeted research could offer alternative treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia”

Advances in Leukaemia therapy bring hope to patients worldwide

Westmead - LEUKAEMIA LABTwo Australian research teams have made exciting progress into leukaemia treatments, raising hope for patients around the world suffering from the blood disease.

In a study led by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Personalised Cancer Medicine, researchers are testing a promising new approach to killing off leukaemia cancer cells.

They have found that cancer cells decide whether to live or die after a short period of intense exposure to a targeted therapy, reducing current treatment time, leading to reduced side effects in patients.

Continue reading “Advances in Leukaemia therapy bring hope to patients worldwide”

70% of cancer patients have new hope through WEHI discovery

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

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

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

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

Unprecedented success in trialling new adult leukaemia therapy

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

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

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

New therapy in trial minimises side effects for leukaemia patients

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

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

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

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

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

Research news: spring 2013

In the spring edition of the Research Review:

  • Research advances building precision tools for diagnosis and cancer surgery.
  • Breast cancer treatment could be enhanced with an existing anti-leukaemia compound.
  • ‘Junk’ DNA and its role in cell growth and development



Treatment for breast cancer enhanced with anti-Leukaemia compound

WEHI image Profs Visvader, Lindeman, and HuangMore than two decades of research at the Walter and Eliza Hall institute (WEHI) in Melbourne has culminated in a potentially life-saving discovery for women with the most common form of breast cancer.

In the late 1980s scientists at the WEHI identified a “pro-survival” protein called BCL-2 that helps cancer cells to become immortal and resist treatments such as chemotherapy. This work has contributed to the development of a compound which neutralises this vital cancer protein, and it is now in clinical trials to treat some types of leukaemia.

But latest news from the WEHI is that this compound has even more potential.

In 85% of women with oestrogen receptor-positive (or ER-positive) breast cancer, researchers have found very high levels of the very same BCL-2 protein.

Using the world-class facilities made possible through ACRF funding they were able to trial this ant-cancer compound in pre-clinical ER-positive breast cancer models, and found that it was successful when combined with an existing breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen. Continue reading “Treatment for breast cancer enhanced with anti-Leukaemia compound”

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

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

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

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

Please find details about each cancer research facility below.

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

Aussie researchers' ‘magic bullet’ gives new hope to children who relapse from blood cancer

Cancer scientists at the prestigious Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) have discovered that an existing drug being trialled for adult cancer treatment also has the potential to treat children who relapse from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), one of the most common types of paediatric blood cancers.

The current survival rate for children diagnosed with the ALL is 80 per cent, however if a child relapses this survival rate decreases to just 20 per cent.

“What is so exciting about this drug is it has the potential to not only improve the survival rate of children who have relapsed but, since it acts as a ‘magic bullet’, it only targets the cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells untouched!” explains Professor Lock, Head of the Leukaemia Biology Program at CCIA.

Dr David Ziegler, paediatric oncologist with the Sydney Children’s Hospital, said “Our patients and their parents can’t afford to wait years to have new treatments developed. We plan to start a clinical trial of this new therapy for children with leukaemia by the end of this year.”

Continue reading “Aussie researchers' ‘magic bullet’ gives new hope to children who relapse from blood cancer”

Aussie scientists lead the way in improving Leukaemia survival rates

A ten-year clinical trial has seen survival rates in children with the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), double to 70%.

The study gives new hope to children with a high-risk of relapse, based on the results of a novel test developed by scientists at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) – a recipient of over $3.2 million in ACRF funding.

The test works by detecting Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) in the bone marrow of children with ALL. It identifies patients who (despite appearances) are not responding to treatment as well as others, allowing clinicians to reassess their treatment options and maximise the patient’s chance of a full recovery.

“The MRD test can detect one leukaemia cell among 100,000 healthy cells in the bone marrow, and this allows clinicians to tailor a child’s treatment,” said Professor Glenn Marshall, Head of Translational Research at CCIA (and Director of the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick). Continue reading “Aussie scientists lead the way in improving Leukaemia survival rates”

Research news: autumn 2013 edition

In the Autumn 2013 edition of the Research Review:

  • The ACRF funds Australia’s first laser scanner cytometer, to be housed at St Vincent’s Institute in Melbourne.
  • Aggressive brain tumours to be newly targeted with leukaemia therapy.
  • Researchers look at ways to empower our immune systems to fight cancer from within.
  • New possibilities in blood testing will pave the way towards better treatment plans.

$7.5 million in funding to the most promising cancer research in the country!

Funding research - current cancer researchThe Australian Cancer Research Foundation is committed to fighting cancer by funding research, tonight investing a further $7.5 million into the search for the cures.

At the cancer charity’s annual Chairman’s Dinner in Sydney, donors, fundraisers and researchers came together to celebrate the incredible research outcomes made possible through ACRF funding.

They also acknowledged the promising future of cancer research in Australia, as the ACRF made multi-million dollar grants available to three visionary research projects.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, and Brisbane’s Diamantina Institute and Centre for Clinical Research all received a significant funding boost of $3.5 million and $2 million each, respectively. At these cancer research centres, the ACRF will be funding research into rare cancers, as well as facilitating world-class, targeted detection and treatment programmes.

ACRF opens two new cancer research facilities in Melbourne

Cancer Research boost through ACRF fundingTwo new ACRF-funded cancer research facilities at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have today been officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Robert Doyle.

Thanks to a $2 million ACRF grant, these new divisions will expand the institute’s current cancer research into the causes and treatments for some of the most prevalent cancers in Australia.

In particular the ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer Division will study the biology of epithelial cancers – which account for 80% of human cancers – including breast, lung and ovarian cancers. Continue reading “ACRF opens two new cancer research facilities in Melbourne”

Kidney cancer therapy treats leukaemia patient into remission

current cancer research
Leukaemia patient, Dr Lukas Wartman. Source: the New York Times

After facing death just eight months ago, a leukaemia cancer patient is in remission following treatment with a drug tested and approved only for advanced kidney cancer.

This is thanks to the findings of a complete and complex genetic sequence undertaken by researchers at the University of Washington.

The research team used a type of analysis that had never been done before: the patient’s cancer cells, his healthy cells and his RNA (a close chemical cousin to DNA) were all sequenced in order to discover a rogue gene working to spur the cancer’s growth.

The patient, a cancer researcher himself – Dr Lukas Wartman – had been diagnosed with adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and was deteriorating quickly. But this study revealed a particular gene which was releasing large and unusual amounts of a protein that encourages cell growth. Continue reading “Kidney cancer therapy treats leukaemia patient into remission”

The ACRF remembers Australian swimming legend, Murray Rose

ACRF is saddened to hear of the passing of swimmer and Leukaemia patient, Murray RoseThe ACRF is saddened to hear of the recent passing of Australian swimming legend, Murray Rose, following his battle with Leukaemia.

Rose is best known for winning back-to-back gold medals in the 1956 (Melbourne) and 1960 (Rome) Olympics 400m swim – an achievement replicated only by Ian Thorpe. He was an inspiration to Australian swimming, taking six Olympic medals (four Gold) in just these two Olympic games.

Rose’s in-the-pool performances inspired many modern-day Australian swimmers and their personal tributes to him have been heartwarming. He also was wonderfully community-minded and also inspired others out of the pool. We at the ACRF would like to take this opportunity to pass on our deepest sympathies to his family, peers and the Australian swimming community.

If you would like to make a memorial gift or donation in memory of Murray Rose, please click here.

ACRF-funded cancer research centre will speed up the fight against Leukaemia

ACRF provides  million to leukaemia research project in MelbourneA new research centre set to fast-track leukaemia discoveries and other types of blood cancer research from the lab to the hospital bedside was opened today by the Victorian Minister for Health, David Davis. Established through a $1 million grant from the ACRF, The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Centre for Translational Research will provide new hope to thousands of people with blood cancers. The facility is located at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, which sees more than 120 new leukaemia cases and performs some 80 bone marrow transplants each year. The Translational Research Centre will therefore provide a seamless link between the Hospital and collaborating research facilities, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne’s Diagnostic Haematology Laboratory and clinical services. Executive Director of Research at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Prof Ingrid Winship said such a centre was vital to improve outcomes for patients. Continue reading “ACRF-funded cancer research centre will speed up the fight against Leukaemia”

Research news: Autumn 2012 edition

In the Autumn edition of the Research Review:

  • Researchers are making leaps and bounds in leukaemia research with early clinical trials at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne testing the safest dose of a new cancer therapy.
  • New QLD centre to target head and neck cancers.
  • Kinomics a new area of drug testing for researchers – specialist facility to open at the Children’s Medical Research Institute, Westmead.

Possible treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

ACRF is delighted to be associated with positive research findings leading to possible treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

Scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne, in collaboration with local and international scientists, have found a potential ‘achilles heel’ for this terrible disease which has such a poor prognosis.

They have found that AML cells may be susceptible to medications that target a protein called Mcl-1. Treatments removing that protein from AML cells can rapidly kill these aggressive cancer cells.

“Importantly, non-cancerous blood cells were much less susceptible to dying when Mcl-1 was depleted,” said lead researcher, Dr Stefan Glaser.

Continue reading “Possible treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia”

Clinical trials reward 20 years of research into leukaemia

A new anti-cancer agent is entering clinical trials to treat the most common type of leukaemia.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne is implementing the phase Ia clinical trial that will demonstrate the safest dose of ABT-199, a drug designed to block the function of the Bcl-2 protein which allows leukaemia cells to live longer. Continue reading “Clinical trials reward 20 years of research into leukaemia”

An ever higher level of achievement

How good it feels when we hear that important research initiatives you’ve helped fund are achieving major results:

Development of next-generation leukaemia treatment was kick-started by an ACRF grant

Extracts from St Vincent’s Institute Media Release, 26th of August 2009.

Recent work at St Vincent’s Institute (SVI) using the Australian Synchrotron may help in the development of next-generation drugs to treat major diseases such as leukaemia.

Professor Michael Parker’s team at SVI has used the Australian Synchrotron to visualize a protein called the GM-CSF receptor. Abnormal signalling through this family of receptors is thought to be involved in certain types of leukaemia.

“More detailed knowledge of the shape of the receptor and its function may help us to design new and potentially more effective drugs to target leukaemia,” said Professor Parker.

Continue reading “Development of next-generation leukaemia treatment was kick-started by an ACRF grant”