Cancer Research at the University of Canberra

University of Canberra research is working to prevent the recurrence of cancer - and it's on the cusp of a major breakthrough to stop the spread of recurring cancer.

There is very little therapy to fight aggressive cancers such as breast cancer and the available treatments are harsh and in many cases, superficial and transient,...And once they recur, there is no treatment whatsoever. We are determined to fix that.

     Prof. Sudha Rao

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90% of the death in women with breast cancer is due to metastatic disease. That is the spread of the breast cancer from the primary site to the other organs. Within that primary tumour there are these special cells known as the cancer stem cells and what happens is these cancer stem cells are completely resistant to the chemo therapy that's done to treat it.

Therefore, what happens is the primary tumour shrinks but the cancer stem cells stay alive and dormant. These cancer stem cells then spread across the body and reseed and form new tumours.

What we've done in my lab is we really specialise in cutting edge molecular technologies. What we've been able to do is literally peel apart the cancer stem cells so we can go right into where the DNA, the core, the brains of the cancer stem cells are. We've managed to identify key proteins that cause the cancer stem cells to tick and because we've identified the key proteins then over the years we've developed novel drugs that actually completely block the cancer stem cells. Therefore, we are developing a new treatment for metastatic disease that doesn't currently exist.

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Is good news on the recurrence of Cancer possible?

University of Canberra researchers are working to personalise cancer treatment and prevent the recurrence of cancer.

When cancer recurs it is often aggressive and patients have very little time. We are working to increase survival rates by developing tests that predicts a patient’s response to therapy and guide their treatment.  The outcome? Faster and more effective treatment outcomes that give cancer patients more time and a higher chance of survival. Coupled with research to develop new treatments to prevent the reoccurrence of cancer we hope to make cancer a treatable, non-fatal disease.


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