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08 Mar 2022

Cancer Council NSW grants for Garvan researchers

Two teams at the Garvan Institute have been awarded project grants from Cancer Council NSW to explore innovative new frontiers in cancer research.

Cancer Council NSW has awarded two project grants to Garvan Institute of Medical Research scientists to kick start innovative research into immunotherapy for solid cancer types and repurposing medication for breast cancer.

The projects expand on Garvan’s leading cancer breakthroughs and leverage the Institute’s advanced cellular genomics and proteomics capabilities. Each grant, worth $450,000 over three years, was awarded based on scientific merit as determined by a rigorous peer-review process and a consumer panel.

The funded projects are led by:

Analysing stromal cells’ impact on immunotherapy

A/Prof Alex Swarbrick

Harnessing the body’s immune system to attack tumours has shown enormous promise as a cancer treatment. However, immunotherapy still has limited impact for some cancer types. While connective tissue known as the stroma has emerged as an important mediator of the cancer’s response to immunotherapy, these cells’ function across different tumour types remains unclear. A/Prof Swarbrick will lead a team studying stromal cells and their interactions with immune cells across multiple cancer types using Garvan’s advanced cellular genomics capabilities. This project will broaden the understanding of different stromal cells and how they can be modified to improve therapeutic benefits to patients.

Repurposing therapies for triple-negative breast cancer

A/Prof David Croucher and Dr Sharissa Latham

A team led by A/Prof Croucher and Dr Latham will lead a project to explore how an existing anti-cancer therapy known as an HDAC inhibitor can be repurposed to prevent the relapse of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), one of the most difficult breast cancer subtypes to treat. Using Garvan’s platform for the rapid analysis of protein activity in cells and organisms, the team has found that HDAC inhibitors can target specific tumour-promoting pathways, without disrupting other important protective cellular pathways. This project will build on these findings in preclinical studies to develop a world-first therapy to prevent the growth of TNBC metastases, which are one of the leading causes of death from breast cancer in Australia.