Research Institute: Children's Cancer Institute of Australia
Amount granted: $0.5 million
Year granted: 2001
The grant was awarded for the establishment of a state-of-the-art chemistry laboratory purpose built for the development of new anti-cancer drugs.
Outcomes: Prof. Hogg and his team have developed a novel anti-cancer drug called GSAO that will be tested in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial in cancer patients early in 2006. A new biotechnology company, Cystemix Pty. Ltd., has been formed to manage the scientific and commercial development of this drug. The drug and its analogues are protected by four international patents. The development of GSAO followed from research that led to a new understanding of how proteins work. A protein often contains strong bonds between pairs of cysteine amino acids in the polypeptide chain. These links are called disulphide-bonds because they join the sulphur atoms of the cysteine residues. They can be thought of as struts that stabilise the polypeptide backbone.
The prevailing view is that disulphide-bonds exist to help hold proteins together, but that they are otherwise inert. Prof Hogg has shown that some disulphide-bonds can break or form in a way that has major consequences for protein function. This discovery that disulphide-bonds can be switches for protein function is a new paradigm in biology and the indications are that it may be relevant to all life forms.
GSAO and its analogues represent a new class of anti-cancer drugs that in principle should be effective against all types of solid tumours. The ACRF Drug Discovery Laboratory will be dedicated to making new and better GSAO-like compounds. These compounds will then be trialled in cancer patients with the help of companies like Cystemix Pty. Ltd.
Director of Research: Prof Philip Hogg
What your donations have achieved
Cervical cancer vaccine
We gave initial seed funding to Professor Ian Frazer’s research into the cervical cancer (HPV). Over 150 million doses of vaccine have been delivered worldwide to date.
The pill that melts away cancer
Our long term support of cancer research at WEHI has led to a treatment that melts away certain advanced forms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. It has been approved for clinical use in the US, European Union and Australia and is being trialled for other types of cancer.
Personalised cancer diagnosis
In 2015, we awarded $10 million seed funding to an ambitious cancer proteome project that aims to provide each cancer patient a personalised treatment plan within 36 hours. This will improve treatment outcomes and help avoid unnecessary treatments.
Zero childhood cancer
We are one of the founding partners of the initiative that will tackle the most serious cases of infant, childhood and adolescent cancer in Australia. It is a key step towards the program vision of one day helping to cure 100% of children with cancer.