The University of Sydney has won a third of the funding awarded to researchers by the NSW Cancer Council
Six University of Sydney-affiliated scholars have won $2m from $6m in new grants announced today by Cancer Council NSW to make ground-breaking advancements in cancer research.
Cancer Council NSW awarded 15 projects to support promising new ways to arrest and defeat cancers, including personalised medicine that exploits advances in immunotherapy and gene-based therapies.
Dr Ken Micklethwaite of the University of Sydney and Westmead Institute was awarded $450,000 to test the impacts of genetically modified immune cells to fight cases of leukaemia, which is currently incurable. Dr Micklethwaite’s research centres on the use of a new “PiggyBac” technology to make cell and gene therapy simpler and more broadly available.
Currently, the technology for making cancer-fighting immune cells is unable to introduce the genes needed to defeat cancer. The PiggyBac system has the ability to make these changes but is yet to be adapted for clinical use. Dr Micklethwaite’s team will optimise PiggyBac for use in clinical trials and develop the technology so researchers have a choice of established tools that can be used to create cancer-fighting cells.
Associate Professor Greg Neely was awarded $450,000 to progress research on the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Only six per cent of patients survive pancreatic cancer for five years or more after diagnosis. It is often treated with gemcitabine, a chemotherapy drug commonly prescribed to treat pancreatic cancer, however gemcitabine resistance in pancreatic cancer is common and can occur quickly.
Professor Neely’s research team hopes to detect molecular “signatures” that define drug resistance and thereby allow researchers to find ways to make current and future treatments more effective. The research will be used to test combinations of drugs to either overcome cancer drug resistance or prevent resistance from occurring.
Dr Elizabeth Hovey ($186,540):
Dr Eva Segelov ($213,460):
Associate Professor Jeffrey Holst ($449,174):
Professor Stephen Ackland ($449,490):
Research Grants Manager at Cancer Council NSW, Dr Jane Hobson said the teams that have been awarded funding are leaders in their fields and can have a major impact on cancer treatment in the future.
“Many of the research teams we have funded this year are world leaders in their domain, and are positioned to rapidly translate their findings into practice. We look forward to seeing the results of this vital research,” she said.
“One key theme that runs through the grants is innovative strategies to enable cells to fight back against cancer. For example, enabling the immune system to help it attack cancerous cells has become an increasingly significant area of cancer research.”
Both Dr Ken Micklethwaite and Associate Professor Greg Neely are available for interview
One key theme that runs through the grants is innovative strategies to enable cells to fight back against cancer.