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.

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”