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Striving for a cancer-free future

Understanding how cancer cells become resistant to a novel treatment of blood cancers

Lead researcher

Dr Gretchen Poortinga, Prof Grant McArthur, Prof Ross Hannan

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Tumour type:
Leukaemia, Lymphoma

Years funded

Project description

We have developed a novel drug targeting the hallmark of all cancers – uncontrolled cell growth. This exciting new cancer treatment, CX-5461, is now being tested in a clinical trial for patients with leukemia and lymphoma. We already know from our preclinical research that cancer cells become resistant to CX-5461, so we have developed a unique method for isolating the resistant cells and identifying the gene mutations that lead to drug resistance. We now aim to determine if these mutations also arise in the patients being treated with this drug in the clinical trial.

What is the need?

This research will identify pathways of drug resistance to CX-5461, which is critical if we are to maximise its benefit for patients. Our work should also lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies, in particular novel drug combinations with CX-5461.

What is the impact of this research?

Our research will directly contribute to the treatment of cancer and have immediate impact on the development of the current clinical trials of CX-5461. We aim to identify the mechanisms of resistance in a preclinical mouse model as a means of identifying why patients relapse. We will then translate these findings to patients in the ongoing trial by monitoring them for the biomarkers of drug resistance we have identified. This will immediately inform treatment decisions for individual patients.

We hope that deeper understanding of resistance causing mechanisms will lead to the identification of new therapies for use in combination with CX-5461 to improve its overall effectiveness.

Funding Body

Cancer Council Victoria Research Grant