Dr Thomas John
Olivia Newton- John Cancer Research Institute
Our project set out to develop a resource that put together tissues from two institutions that treat mesothelioma, a rare cancer with a poor prognosis. As there are few new therapies available for patients suffering from this cancer, we reasoned by collating our data, we would have the best chance to derive clinically meaningful investigations into this disease.
We have built a tissue microarray (TMA) and gathered clinical information for these patients which we then used to determine whether specific markers seen in the tissue had any implications on patient outcomes.
Our data shows specific pathways, including immune and proliferation pathways in mesothelioma, are important and this is the first step towards defining new therapies to target them. We believe that combination approaches are needed to treat this disease and our data supports this so far.
What is the need?
Mesothelioma is deadly and yet very few new treatments have become available in the last 14 years. This is largely due to the fact that it is a rare diagnosis and researchers have not had access to good tissue resources to discover new markers.
It is important to also define the disease and the TMA enables us to better understand the biology of mesothelioma.
The Cancer Council Victoria grant has enabled us to build a resource of tissues, to derive new models in mice that can be used to test novel therapies and ultimately bring new therapies to patients.
What impact will this research have?
Our research has already achieved important outcomes in terms of developing a clinically annotated resource for further studies and new models of mesothelioma for pre-clinical research.
We will not be using a "me too" approach where drugs that have been used in other cancers are then applied to mesothelioma. Rather, we will use our tissues and mouse models to define the targets we are interested in and demonstrate their effectiveness before launching into clinical trials. We are hopeful that this will provide better rationale for trials and ultimately higher success rates.
Ultimately beyond this project we hope to develop new therapies that can better control mesothelioma such that it becomes a chronic disease rather than the death sentence it is currently.
"The Cancer Council Victoria grant has enabled us to build a resource of tissues, to derive new models in mice that can be used to test novel therapies and ultimately bring new therapies to patients."
A/Prof Paul Mitchell, Dr Vinod Ganju, Prof Jonathan Cebon, Mr Simon Knight