Researchers are recruiting volunteers for a clinical trial they hope will improve survival rates for an aggressive form of breast cancer that affects about 1,500 women each year in New South Wales.
The trial will test a new strategy in cancer treatment: using a new therapy to target a ‘defence switch’ on cancer cells that alerts cancer to the threat of chemotherapy.
The trial aims to improve survival rates for patients with triple negative breast cancer, a treatment-resistant form of cancer that can quickly adapt against chemotherapy. It will commence in August.
It will be led by Associate Professor Christine Chaffer and Dr Beatriz San Juan from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and Senior Staff Specialist in medical oncology Dr Rachel Dear of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. The trial will be conducted at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Darlinghurst.
By 2020, multiple sites worldwide will be trialing a non-invasive test for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The machine can determine if soldiers and emergency workers are prone to the disorder, and if so, they may be rested and not immediately deployed again.
Queensland scientists are helping radiologists to spot the more subtle signs of breast cancer, using computer tools and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Currently MRI allows radiologists to detect lumps or other growths by creating a 3D anatomical image of the breast.
Prof Stuart Crozier and his team at the University of Queensland have developed a computer tool that improves MRI detection by spotting more subtle indicators of cancer.
“When cancers are just starting to form, they form abnormal blood vessels very early, to feed their rapid cell division,” Stuart says.
“By seeing how certain contrast agents move through the tissue, we can pick up the formation of these blood vessels.”
This works towards solving two issues with conventional MRIs.
First, it should reduce the number of false positive results and therefore the number of women put through biopsies of benign tumours.
Second, this should catch tumours earlier, not just when tumours are big enough to discern visually.
“The goal is to assist radiologists to identify areas of cancer risk that may not be obvious on conventional images,” Stuart says.
Stuart, a Fellow of the Australian Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), was recently presented with a 2012 Clunies Ross Award for his contributions to the engineering of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.
The research, funded as an Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project, is now undergoing trials with 140 women at private radiology firm Queensland X-ray.
Photo: Contrast-enhanced MRI of a breast.
Credit: Yaniv Gal
Photo: Research Assistant Michael Wildermoth works with the software that shows how certain contrast agents move through breast tissue.
Credit: Kim Nunes
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Most women in Australia who have breast cancer recover. But many then relapse years later.
Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat wants to know why. If she can solve this mystery, her work will open up opportunities for new drugs and treatments. Her achievements to date suggest that she is well placed to succeed.
In 2006 she was part of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research team that received global attention for its discovery of breast stem cells – a significant step in understanding how breast cancer starts. Marie-Liesse built on this finding with a series of papers exploring how these cells develop and are influenced by oestrogen and other steroids. Continue reading How does breast cancer start?→
Blood tests using nanoparticles carrying molecules which can detect breast cancer biomarkers could save millions of lives and open the way to mass screening for many cancers.
Prof. Matt Trau, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, and his team are using a combination of nanotechnology and molecular biology in the project, funded by a five-year $5 million grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Researchers in Melbourne will trial a new procedure to reconstruct breasts in patients following mastectomy. The procedure will use the women’s own stem cells instead of silicon.
Focusing on the treatment and recovery of women with breast cancer, the new technique known as Neopec involves the insertion of a customised biodegradable chamber which is contoured to match the woman’s natural breast shape. The chamber acts as a scaffold within which the woman’s own stem cells are used to grow permanent breast fat tissue.