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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]

Cancer patients could benefit from blood disorder treatment

Cancer scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) have recently discovered an existing treatment for a blood disorder could potentially also treat stomach and bowel cancer – two of the most common cancers worldwide.

Pre-clinical trials have found an existing class of medicines called ‘JAK inhibitors’ reduce the growth of inflammation often associated with stomach and bowel cancer.

JAK inhibitors are currently being used to treat myelofibrosis and are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of other conditions such as leukaemia, lymphoma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

By understanding the way molecules are involved in promoting the survival and growth of cancer cells, researchers have been able to identify which of these molecules can be targeted with potential anti-cancer treatments.

The research team at WEHI discovered that certain types of bowel and stomach cancer were influenced by proteins, called JAKs, which helped with the cancer growth and formation.

Dr Emma Stuart, Dr Tracy Putoczki and Associate Professor Matthias Ernst from the WEHI made this discovery.

“It was exciting to discover that when JAKs were blocked with existing medications (JAK inhibitors), bowel and stomach cancer growth in experimental models was slowed, and many of the cancer cells were killed,” Dr Stuart said.

The discovery of JAK inhibitors has stemmed from research into the links between inflammation and cancers of the digestive tract.

“Recently we have begun to unravel the complex signalling that occurs in inflamed tissues, such as when a person has a stomach ulcer or suffers from inflammatory bowel disease, and how this drives cancer development,” said Dr Stuart.

This discovery of a treatment that already exists which can be safely and successfully inhibited in patients is very promising.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to funding research which leads to better treatment outcomes for all types of cancer, and we are proud to have provided millions of dollars in funding to the team of researchers working at Melbourne’s WEHI.

These findings have been published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Existing blood disorder medicine shows promise in treating certain stomach and bowel cancers

Cancer scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) have recently discovered an existing treatment for a blood disorder could potentially also treat stomach and bowel cancer – two of the most common cancers worldwide.

Pre-clinical trials have found an existing class of medicines called ‘JAK inhibitors’ reduce the growth of inflammation often associated with stomach and bowel cancer.

JAK inhibitors are currently being used to treat myelofibrosis and are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of other conditions such as leukaemia, lymphoma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Continue reading “Existing blood disorder medicine shows promise in treating certain stomach and bowel cancers”

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”

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”

Breast cancer researcher elected to the Australian Academy of Science

Professor Visvader elected to the Australian Academy of ScienceThe ACRF would like to congratulate breast cancer researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Professor Jane Visvader for her recent election to the esteemed Australian Academy of Science.

The fellowship recognises Professor Visvader’s breakthrough research into defining the full genealogy of cells in the breast, and clarifying which of these cells gives rise to different types of breast cancer.

Professor Visvader, who jointly heads the institute’s ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer division with Professor Geoff Lindeman, said she was humbled to be one of 21 Australian scientists to join the Academy this year. “This recognition reflects a team effort between a wonderful group of scientists over many years,” she said.

Cancer research partnership will improve treatments for patients

Cancer Research boost through ACRF fundingNew laboratories funded by ACRF are set to strengthen cancer research for some of the most prevalent cancers in Australia.

ACRF’s recent $2 million grant has allowed the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne to expand and enhance existing research programs into the causes of, and new treatments for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and leukaemia.

In order to do this, the ACRF funding will be directed into two particular cancer research divisions, known as ‘The ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer Division’ and ‘The ACRF Chemical Biology Division’.

“Lung cancer is the greatest cause of cancer-related death in Australians, while breast cancer is a leading cause of mortality in women,” said Professor Geoff Lindeman, joint head of the ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer Division (pictured, middle).

“These are diseases that are very prevalent, and patients need better treatments” he said. “Similarly, more research is needed into ovarian cancer, which is poorly understood and for which the outlook for patients is very poor. We need new treatment strategies, ACRF’s support will help us to do that.”

Continue reading “Cancer research partnership will improve treatments for patients”

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”

HOW TO SUPPORT BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. It has a devastating impact on those diagnosed and the people around them.

What is breast cancer awareness month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is held annually in October. It aims to raise awareness and generate support for breast cancer by raising much needed funds to improve it’s diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

This month also serves as a reminder to women to put their health first and get regular check ups for breast cancer.

How you can support breast cancer awareness month

There are a number of ways you can get involved and support breast cancer awareness month. Some ideas include;

  • Spreading awareness by adding a touch of pink to your wardrobe throughout the month to help start a conversation 
  • Using social media or engaging in conversations with your friends or family and using these platforms to talk about breast cancer, the impact of it and the importance of regular check ups 
  • Getting involved in a charity walk or run that raises money for breast cancer 
  • Making a donation to a cancer research charity such as ACRF, who are committed to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer

How ACRF is contributing to Breast Cancer research

“Research and more research is the key to defeating cancer,” says Chief Executive, Mr David Brettell.

“Since ACRF was established in 1984 we have given 16 multi-million dollar grants to research that is investigating preventative, diagnostic and/or treatment methods for breast cancer.” Continue reading “HOW TO SUPPORT BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH”

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”

ACRF to announce 2010 grant recipients

With the final review of the shortlisted applicants for Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF) multi-million dollar grant program, the Foundation is set to announce the 2010 grant recipients in just one week.

All grant applications received by the Foundation are reviewed by the ACRF’s Medical Research Advisory Committee (MRAC) whose members are scientists of the highest national and global repute.

This leading Australian scientific committee make recommendations to the ACRF Board of Trustees after a rigorous review process. Assessment of applications is made by independent expert assessors, as well as an inspection of sites where grants will be applied to fund laboratories and house equipment.

The ACRF will announce the 2010 grant recipients on Thursday 25 November. Continue reading “ACRF to announce 2010 grant recipients”