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Cutting-edge method to treat breast cancer

Dr Ajithkumar Vasanthakumar from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

In a cutting-edge new study funded by Cancer Council Victoria, Dr Ajithkumar Vasanthakumar from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and his colleagues are developing a new therapeutic approach to target immunosuppressive cells that block the effectiveness of immunotherapy for patients living with breast cancer.

“In recent years, we have seen a leap in cancer immunotherapy, a method where our immune system is instructed or tuned to eradicate cancer cells. While effective in some cancers such as melanoma, this strategy is often ineffective in breast cancer,” said Dr Vasanthakumar.

“This new strategy is the first of its kind and based on years of research from our group. We’re aiming for the first time to use a ‘sniper’ approach to target a specific type of cell inside the tumour and in the adipose tissue which surrounds breast cancer.”

Dr Vasanthakumar hopes his very promising pre-clinical findings within the last two years, which has shown his team are on the right track, will translate to a clinical trial setting within the next fiveto-ten years.

Breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in Victoria. For Dr Vasanthakumar, his research is deeply personal after losing an aunty to breast cancer 25 years ago and with another close family member recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

 This project has been vitally funded for three years through Cancer Council Victoria’s Grants-in-Aid Program, made possible thanks to the generosity of supporters like you.

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