Research begins into new technology to help treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Tuesday 20 March, 2018

New technology to help treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cancer cells will be tested in clinical trials in Melbourne. The technology, called mass cytometry, provides an unprecedented level of detail into the inner workings of individual cancer cells. This new information will reveal how cancer cells change to avoid destruction by new anti-cancer drugs and guide new therapies to overcome this resistance. The study, “Deep Profiling of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia During Targeted Therapies,” is one of 11 research projects being announced today that will share in $3.25 million from Cancer Council Victoria.

The research funding is part of the Cancer Council Victoria’s Grants-in-Aid program that funds high-quality research projects into the treatment, causes, detection and prevention of all cancers. Other successful projects are:

  • A study into antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), a new treatment for mesothelioma.
  • An exploration of a class of drugs used for treatment of osteoporosis that has benefits in the treatment of stomach cancer, and that are now being tested for bowel cancer treatment.
  • Research into cancer cachexia, characterised by progressive loss of muscle and fat mass, physical activity and functional independence, to develop ways to block the devastating wasting condition.

Grant-in-aid recipient Associate Professor Daniel Gray, of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, said chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common blood cancer in Australia, with about 1200 people diagnosed each year.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

“With this research project we have an exciting opportunity to make a real difference to those affected by CLL. We believe that this new technology, combined with access to valuable patient samples, gives us an edge to provide new insights into how cancers become resistant to treatment.

“This means we will be able to better target these cells not only for leukaemia, but potentially for other cancers too.”

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said over the past decade Cancer Council had awarded more than $50 million to external researchers, generating real breakthroughs that benefit the whole community.

“As the largest non-government funder of cancer research in Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria has been awarding fellowships and grants to the very best and brightest cancer researchers for more than 60 years,” Mr Harper said.

“The projects announced today have been selected based on their excellence and their potential to have a significant impact on different forms of cancer.

“The grants are entirely donor funded and highlight just how important our supporters are in helping us work towards the next cancer breakthrough.”

Cancer Council Victoria’s 2018 grants-in-aid recipients:

  • Repurposing drugs for treatment of gastrointestinal cancers - Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute
  • Investigating the role of a novel immune cell subset in cancer - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Identifying new treatments for platinum resistant Small Cell Lung Cancer - Monash University
  • Deep Profiling of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia During Targeted Therapies - The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • Towards precision medicine for cancer cachexia - Monash University
  • Testing new drugs for bone cancer - La Trobe University
  • New treatments for mesothelioma - Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute
  • Targeting transcriptional addiction for cancer therapy - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Investigating a novel anti-cancer drug targeting MCL-1 for the treatment of blood cancers - The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • Regulation of phosphoinositide 3-phosphate tumour suppressor activity - Monash University
  • Determining how liver cancer develops in obesity - Monash University