Cash boost to support brain cancer treatment

Cancer Institute New South Wales (CINSW) has announced funding for a drug development platform that will aid the development of new treatments for aggressive brain cancers.

About 1,600 people are diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia each year, and 1,200 die from this disease, which is the number one cancer killer of people under the age of 39.

Researchers at Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI), the University of Newcastle (UoN) and Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital have been collaborating for many years to develop a new class of drugs that are expected to improve the treatment of a number of diseases, including cancer.

Dr Megan Chircop at CMRI is studying how cells divide and grow in brain cancers.

Her team is developing new anti-cancer treatments aimed at stopping cell division in difficult to treat brain tumours, like glioblastoma.

Dr Chircop’s team have shown that these new drugs can shrink brain tumours by as much as 75% in preclinical laboratory tests, which is a very promising start, but much more development is needed.

“Although the research is still in its early stages, that is preclinical development and testing, we hope these treatments will be progressing towards clinical trials as soon as practicable.” Dr Chircop said.

Prof Phil Robinson, who leads the drug development program at CMRI says, “This requires a considerable effort in drug design, synthesis and screening on a large scale. This puts unprecedented pressure on our existing screening pipeline to handle the large volume of work required. Our existing equipment is inadequate. Thankfully, CINSW had funded a suite of equipment to be strategically located at the most important bottlenecks in the drug development pipeline.”

This patient-focussed program of drug development requires a large collaborative network that includes CINSW’s paediatric Translational Cancer Research Centre – Kids Cancer Alliance – and the CINSW funded Hunter Translational Cancer Research Unit.

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