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State-of-the-art chair to be a game-changer in radiation treatment

Tuesday 15 March, 2022

Thanks to your support, 15 research teams have embarked on groundbreaking new projects. 

Soon cancer patients will receive radiotherapy in a more comfortable position as part of a new Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre project funded through Cancer Council Victoria’s Grants-in-Aid research grants program.

Researchers are designing and manufacturing a state-of-the-art radiotherapy chair to better target cancer cells and provide much-needed comfort for patients.

Radiotherapy is presently delivered with patients lying down on a flat hard carbon-fibre treatment couch. The innovative project is setting out to transform the treatment experience for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.

“Many radiotherapy patients cannot tolerate lying down, including those with head, neck, or lung cancers, as they can have problems with swallowing, breathing or might suffer from chronic musculoskeletal conditions,” said Associate Professor Nicholas Hardcastle, who is leading the research project.

“If a patient is in an upright position, it is not only more comfortable, but it alters the patient anatomy. This chair may reduce collateral radiation dose to radiation-sensitive organs that can lead to painful side-effects, such as damage to the lungs and a higher risk of cardiac events.”

A/Prof Hardcastle said half of all cancer patients can benefit from radiation therapy during their cancer treatment.

“Radiation is a very common and beneficial form of treatment for many cancers, in particular, for patients with head, neck, or lung cancers,” A/Prof Nicholas Hardcastle added.

“Treating these patients in an upright position will not only improve a patient’s comfort but will allow them to receive life-saving treatment on an ongoing basis,” A/Prof Hardcastle added.

A/Prof Hardcastle also believes that this chair, once completed, will allow for the development of a first-of-its-kind mobile radiation treatment truck, which could reach thousands of cancer patients living in regional or remote areas.

“Treating patients who are lying down requires expensive technology and needs ample physical space. As a result, radiotherapy is typically only offered in large metropolitan hospitals, leading to inequity in access to treatment.

“Developing smaller equipment, like this chair, could be made mobile and improve access to radiotherapy in regional and remote areas. It has the potential to be a game-changer for thousands of regional cancer patients across the country,” A/Prof Hardcastle added.

A/Prof Hardcastle hopes the chair will be ready to be used in clinical trials by the end of the year.

This work is one of 15 cancer research projects awarded $3.9 million in grants from Cancer Council Victoria in February. Chosen for their likelihood of achieving significant breakthroughs, these fascinating projects are exploring new methods of prevention, early-detection, treatment and care and cover a wide-range of cancer types.

CEO Todd Harper is proud to support Victoria’s leading cancer researchers in their research goals.

“These projects have the potential to be not only game-changing, but lifesaving, in their impact on people with cancer,” said Todd.

“Our grants are entirely donor funded and highlight just how important the generous Victorian public are in helping us work towards the next cancer breakthrough. The time is now to continue funding our incredible researchers as we work toward a cancer-free future,” Mr Harper added.  

Other research projects that you are helping to fund include:

A/Prof Jeffrey Babon, Prof Warren Alexander, Dr Nadia kershaw, Dr Jason Brouwer
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
A new therapy for the treatment of Myeloproliferative Diseases (2022 -2024)

Prof Sarah-Jane Dawson, A/Prof Jessic Howell, Prof Alexander Thompson 
University of Melbourne 
Early Detection and Monitoring of Hepatocellular Carcinoma using Liquid Biopsies (2022 - 2024)

Prof Mark Dawson, Dr. Clare Gould, A/Prof Michael Dickinson, Dr Mary Ann Anderson, Prof Constantine Tam 
University of Melbourne
Novel strategies to predict and monitor response to CAR T-cell therapy in DLBCL (2022 - 2024)

Dr. Omer Gilan  
Monash University
Developing new combination therapies in acute leukaemia (2022 - 2024) 

A/Prof Paul Gregorevic, A/Prof Sean McGee    
University of Melbourne 
Giving people the strength to fight cancer: Targeting muscle to enhance survival (2022 - 2024)

Dr Nicholas Hardcastle, Dr James Korte, A/Prof Sarah Everitt, A/Prof Tomas Kron, Dr Nikki Plumridge, Dr Susan Harden, Dr Kate Moodie, Prem Krishnan, Dr Elizabeth Pearson
University of Melbourne
Sitting up for Radiotherapy (2022 - 2024)

Dr Susan Harden, Prof Penelope Schofield, Prof John Zalcberg, A/Prof Rob Stirling, Mr Ewan MacFarlane
Monash University 
Determining patterns of care and access to novel therapies for mesothelioma (2022 - 2024)

Prof Nicholas Huntington, Momeneh Foroutan, Dr Sebastian Scheer 
Monash University
Enhancing Immunotherapy Response Rates (2022 - 2024) 

A/Prof Thomas John, Prof Sean Grimmond, Dr Muhammad Alamgeer  
University of Melbourne
A Precision Medicine program in Mesothelioma (2022 - 2024) 
This project is funded through the generous support of the Lyall Watts Mesothelioma Research Fund. 

Prof Ricky Johnstone, Dr Stephin Vervoort 
University of Melbourne
New therapies for Multiple Myeloma (2022 - 2024)

Prof Laura Mackay
University of Melbourne
Targeting local immune cells to improve cancer treatments (2022 - 2024) 

Prof Stephen Nutt, Dr Julie Tellier 
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Targeting plasma cells to treat liver cancer (2022 - 2024) 

Dr. Marc Rigau Cortal  
University of Melbourne 
Empowering human immune cells against blood and solid cancers

Dr Sibel Saya 
University of Melbourne 
DNA testing to predict risk of cancer in general practice

Prof Joseph Trapani, Dr Laura Porter 
University of Melbourne
Using anti-cancer drugs to stimulate an immune response to cancer (2022 - 2024)

Thank you for supporting this vital work. After the huge difficulties people affected by cancer have faced over the last two years, you are ensuring there will be a much brighter future for all Victorians affected by cancer.