1 in 2 Australian men and women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85; this is a disease that does not discriminate.
Given these statistics, unfortunately, cancer touches the lives of all of us either directly or through the ones we know and love. But the good news is, cancer is no longer a death sentence for the majority of those faced with this disease.
The five-year survival rate for individuals diagnosed with cancer is now at around 68% largely thanks to medical research breakthroughs - significantly up from the 1984 statistic of 48%.
However, there is evidently still a long way to go to further improve survival rates. Together with your support, we can continue to raise funds for our dedicated medical research teams.
Establishing a melanoma surveillance program using genetic sequencing and 3D imaging technology for people at high risk of
Australia has the highest rate of melanoma incidence in the world, yet we have no population-based screening programs or standardised processes for assessing a person’s risk to melanoma. This research team have created a protocol to identify a person’s risk to melanoma by combining genetic sequencing with their medical history along with their appearance such as hair/eye/skin colour and number of moles.
They have designed a surveillance program suitable for high risk individuals that involves 3D whole body imaging to map and monitor moles
over time, to help quickly identity changes that may be indicative of melanoma. The team are conducting a randomised controlled clinical
trial to assess the health and cost benefits the program offers. The goal is to establish a nation-wide melanoma surveillance program using
genetic sequencing and 3D imaging technology.
Testing a novel drug to inhibit a lethal subtype of prostate cancer
This project aims to test a novel drug, CBL0137, for a particularly aggressive and therapy resistant form of prostate cancer known as Neuroendocrine prostate cancer. Current clinical therapies are not effective at inhibiting the growth and spread of this subtype of prostate cancer and men diagnosed with neuroendocrine prostate cancer have a very poor prognosis. The research team have found that the protein, N-myc plays an important role in the development and aggressiveness of Neuroendocrine prostate cancer.
A clinical trial using CBL0137 is currently in progress with neuroblastoma patients with elevated levels of N-myc. The team will undertake the first ever studies to investigate if CBL0137 can also effectively inhibit neuroendocrine prostate cancer, as it has shown great promise in neuroblastomas also harbouring the N-myc protein. The outcomes from this project are likely to identify a new therapy (the drug CBL0137) that can inhibit the growth of NEPC and provide the first effective targeted therapy for this disease subtype.
A multifaceted precision approach to high risk prostate cancer
Improved response to drug therapy for cancer
In a world first, a PARF funded research team have discovered a drug that could help treat aggressive and advanced types of cancer like triple negative and her2 positive breast cancer. They believe they have a breakthrough that is looking at how to make current treatment resistant cancer cells, respond to targeted therapy by combining a drug that has been in clinical use for over 30 years, stematil. These aggressive cancer cells are so hard to treat because they are normally resistant to current cancer therapies like chemotherapy.
Current target therapy costs tens of thousands of dollars and only work on 20-30% of patients and for the rest it is very expensive and gives significant side effects with no benefit. The research has shown that when stematil is combined with the therapy, the tumour cells suddenly show up and are able to be targeted and destroyed. The research project is currently in a phase one clinical trial with 10 patients to test the efficacy and safety of this new combination therapy in humans.
Improved Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment
This research team is looking into mammographic density, which is essentially the white area on a mammogram. It isn’t widely known, but it has clearly shown that women with high breast density are more at risk to breast cancer, so it can be used as a breast cancer risk assessment tool. The team is focussed on looking into what it is about the white area on the mammogram that leads to increased breast cancer risk. Mammograms are a very important screening tool for breast cancer and the best way for us to determine whether breast cancer has formed or not. Breast cancers tend to form in the area which are mammographically dense (white area) but we don’t know how.
The team have set up a collaboration programme with surgeons, radiologists and pathologists and are working with donated tissue samples from women who have gone through breast reduction surgery or prophylactic mastectomies. These tissue samples being studied in the lab to identify the factors that are different in the dense area from the non-dense area to help diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic opportunities for breast cancer risk assessment, prevention and therapy, whilst fostering new research into the societal aspects of mammary screening.
Increasing the number of breast cancer therapeutic antibody possibilities, patient choices and success rates.
(Follow on project from the research findings of Improved response to drug therapy for cancer)
Pharmaceutical companies have invested millions in monoclonal antibody therapies for breast cancer, only for the results not to be effective enough for the new treatment to be adopted. This research project aims to rescue some of the technology. The research team have selected a new list of antibodies previously developed and tested in clinic that didn’t quite succeed in replacing current therapy. They will combine the antibody with another drug, stematil, to see if the combined therapy has a positive affect on shrinking tumours in the lab. If successful, they will then test any improved tumour cell killing in pre-clinical models. This work has the potential to rescue hundreds of millions of dollars of breast cancer therapy research and increase patient options and success rates.
Queensland Bladder Cancer Initiative (QBCI)
Bladder cancer is common, deadly, and the most expensive cancer to treat (from diagnosis to death). It is the 9th most common cancer worldwide and affects both men and women (with a 3:1 ratio). This research team aim to tackle head on the challenge of Bladder Cancer through the establishment of the QBCI and the following aims.
Improved diagnosis – development of a non invasive “liquid” urinary biomarker to address the challenge of screening in addition to long-term surveillance of treated patients who are at high risk for developing recurrent bladder cancer.
Improved patient experience and outcomes via the formation of a networked community of practice with increased online social capital and
consumer education and formation of a consumer bureau to contribute to a collaborative and relevant BlCa research program.
Establishment of a Bladder Cancer Registry for identification of practice patterns for BlCa in Queensland, thus enabling the identification of disparities in availability and treatment practices in different settings (metropolitan,regional, or remote; public versus private systems) with the goal of improving outcomes via increased equity of care. Establishment of a Bladder Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting (MDT) to improve overall and complex patient care.
A new frontier in the fight against head and neck cancer
The PA Research Foundation are funding a world-first clinical trial in the fight against incurable head and neck cancer caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Professor Frazer, the developer of the world’s first HPV vaccine, and Professor Porceddu a leading head and neck oncologist, have teamed up and are taking a targeted approach to this disease by aiming to trigger the body’s own immune system to recognise the cancerous cells and attack them without the need for toxic treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This is similar to the way the body handles a typical infection. Currently about 25% of HPV-related cancers will return following treatment and be considered incurable. This treatment is as simple as a small injection given under the skin of both forearms repeated on 2 to 3 occasions over a couple of months.
It is anticipated that the HPV anti-virus, developed by Professor Frazer and his team will produce antibodies that will attack cancer cells that have parts of the virus expressed on their surface. This immunotherapy approach essentially turns the light on the cancer so it is no longer hidden from the immune system, and hence the immune system kicks in to respond.
The aim of this study is to confirm the delivery of the vaccine is safe in humans and that it can elicit the same immune response.