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.

Childhood cancer on notice

Official opening of the new ACRF Drug Discovery Centre

iStock_000000735381XSmall_two-hands-clasping-in-hospital-300x235“Tonight, together, we have put childhood cancer on notice.

“Tonight, we have glimpsed a not to distant future where no child who has cancer need suffer,” declared Bob Muscat, chairman of the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia at the August 19 launch of the $3.1m ACRF Drug Discovery Centre.

Mr Muscat joined University of New South Wales chancellor David Gonski, Children’s Cancer Institute Australia executive director Michelle Haber, CCIA founder Jack Kassas, and Australian Cancer Research Foundation chairman Tom Dery to officially open the new ACRF-funded facilities at the CCIA, part of the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW.

The ACRF Drug Discovery Centre will develop new and improved treatments for childhood cancers.

It houses customised technology that enables one year’s medical research to be done in just a few days. Continue reading “Childhood cancer on notice”

ACRF medical adviser wins top science prize

ACRF congratulates Philip Hogg

247Studios_Eureka_Prizes_0048-300x215Philip Hogg, director of the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW, has won the 2010 Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation.

The prestigious award, announced in Sydney on August 17, is for research leading to the development of a novel class of anti-cancer drugs. It also recognises Professor Hogg’s work in monitoring real-time cell death during chemotherapy.

“Professor Hogg has been a member of the ACRF Medical Research Advisory Committee since 2003,” said ACRF chairman, Tom Dery. Continue reading “ACRF medical adviser wins top science prize”

ACRF's $3.1 million launch

A $3.1 million ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer opens on Thursday August 19.

The new facility at the Children’s Cancer Research Institute Australia – part of the recently opened Lowy Cancer Research Centre at University of New South Wales – houses the only drug screening robot in Australia. It’s innovative technology can do a year’s research in just one day and the Centre marks a new era in the development of personalised medicine. On average three children in Australia die every week from cancer.

The ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer aims to change this.

UNSW Chancellor, David Gonski, ACRF Chairman, Tom Dery, Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia Executive Director, Professor Michelle Haber and CCIA Chairman, Bob Muscat will speak at the launch.

Click Here for ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer Media Release.

Lowy Symposium

Lowy Symposium

World Leaders in Cancer Research Gather for Lowy Symposium

Sydney, Australia: Leading international and Australian cancer researchers met in Sydney to explore new frontiers for cancer drug development in drug discovery, pre-clinical testing and the translation of these discoveries into the clinic.

The Lowy Symposium with the theme of “Discovering Cancer Therapeutics” was held at the John Niland Scientia Building at the University of New South Wales from May 16 to 18.  The meeting program included 9 invited international speakers and 10 national experts in cancer therapeutics research. Full Media Release here.

The 2010 Symposium was the first of what is planned to be a biennial cancer symposium series that will celebrate the establishment of the Lowy Cancer Research Centre in Sydney. The Lowy Cancer Research Centre, to be officially launched on 28 May, will be one of the leading cancer research centres in the world integrating childhood and adult cancer research and taking a holistic approach to cancer across the life spectrum.

Announced at the Lowy Symposium to the world’s leading cancer researchers, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer was recognised as key to sharpening the blunt instruments currently being used to treat cancer and achieving better health outcomes for patients. Full Media Release here.

The Lowy Symposium will gather international speakers and specialists at the forefront of world-class cancer research, promoting the link between research and achieving better health outcomes for people with cancer.

  • When: 16 – 18 May 2010
  • Where: The University of New South Wales, Kensington Campus

Read more about ACRF’s recent grant to CCIA

Read about a previous ACRF grant to CCIA (2002)

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation is now in its 25th year of operation.

Individual ACRF grants exceed $1.5 million with no upper limit. This is unique funding for infrastructure, not available from any other private source in Australia. A grant from ACRF in 1999 kick-started 2006 Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer’s quest to develop a vaccine to prevent and treat cervical cancer.

In the last five years alone, the foundation has awarded grants worth $46 million, with recipients including St Vincent’s Institute, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Walter & Eliza Hall, and Ludwig Cancer Institute. This figure includes a major $5 million grant for the ACRF Centre for Therapeutic Target Discovery at the Parkville Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Read more about our cancer research grants.

ACRF staff were lucky enough to have a Sneak Preview of the amazing new Lowy Cancer Research Centre recently. Read all about the visit at Sneak Preview of New Research Centre.