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Our Challenge

More Effective Treatment of Metastatic Cancer.

Metastatic cancer occurs when the aggressive cancer cells get into the blood and spread from the primary location, throughout the body. As it is difficult to detect and treat, it is often fatal. If metastatic cancer enters the brain, it is very hard for drugs to cross the blood–brain barrier.

Metastasis, particularly of aggressive forms of cancer, is the focus of the research at the University of Canberra.

Our Vision: An informed, real-time approach to treatment.

We aim to develop ways to give doctors an informed approach to metastatic cancer treatments. It provides them with the ability to detect cancer earlier and understand how patients will respond to treatments with personalised medicine.

Patient care flow chart

This technology focusses on non-invasive blood tests that are as accurate as a tissue read-out, providing faster and easier ways to track cancer cells and resistance to therapy. Currently, it is hard to predict whether a patient will respond to cancer treatment and, if patients do respond, whether they will develop resistance (as a significant portion of the responder patients will). The goal is to develop a treatment which is cost-effective so care is available for every patient. New tests will allow oncologists to distinguish which patients are likely to respond to therapy, irrespective of the cancer type.

Using epigenetics, the team are also developing the power to re-programme immune cells to fight the cancer and rewire cancer cells.

The Impact of this Research

The outcomes of this research will change the way we approach cancer treatments, providing new strategies for early intervention.

We can achieve this through continuous non-invasive tracking and individualised targeted therapy that attacks metastatic disease. As cancer behaves differently within each patient, a personalised approach for diagnostics and therapy will be much more effective. These treatments offer guidance and invaluable information to oncologists so they can customise and target their treatments rather than using a general or randomised approach.

The goal is for the lab to become a critical, pre-clinical platform to guide oncologists. It will provide the ability to measure cancer cells and see their responses to different treatments in real time. This will give peace of mind to patients and survivors of cancer who will know the status of their cancer.

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