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Striving for a cancer-free future

Testing new drugs for bone cancer

Lead researcher

A/Prof Christine Hawkins, Prof Andrew Scott, A/Prof Carl Walkley

La Trobe University

Tumour type:

Years funded

What is the project?

“IAP antagonists” are new anti-cancer drugs that are presently being evaluated in clinical trials for other types of cancer. Our project will use mouse models to test whether these drugs may treat bone cancer without causing the severe side effects associated with traditional therapies. We will also evaluate the efficacy and safety of combinations of currently used chemotherapy drugs and IAP antagonists.

What is the need?

Bone cancer is fatal for more than a third of patients and for most of those whose cancer spreads to other organs such as the lungs. Although less common than some other cancer types, bone cancer poses a disproportionate burden of disease. Patients are typically diagnosed as teenagers so many decades of life are lost by the 40% of patients, and 75% of those whose cancer has spread, for whom treatment fails. Survival rates have not significantly improved for decades. Drugs used to treat this disease can impair heart and kidney function and/or stimulate formation of new cancers. Better and safer treatments are needed.

What are you trying to achieve?

Patients need new treatments that are more effective and safer. This study will evaluate “IAP antagonists”, which we hope and expect may provide these dual benefits. Our ultimate goal is to obtain data to inform the design of a clinical trial of IAP antagonists. If our data warrants implementation of such a trial, in five years recruitment of patients would probably be underway.

Funding Body

Cancer Council Victoria Research Grant