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15 Mar 2019

Cancer Council NSW grants for innovative cancer research

Dr Thomas Cox and Professor Chris Ormandy have been awarded three-year Project Grants from Cancer Council NSW to explore innovative research projects in pancreatic and breast cancer respectively.

Cancer Council NSW logo
Cancer Council NSW logo

Announced at Cancer Council NSW’s annual Research Awards, Project Grants were awarded based on their high scientific merit, decided through peer review processes, and also through consumer review, which looked at each project’s value to the community.

Dr Cox, who was awarded a Project Grant of $450,000 will be looking at how to target Lysyl Oxidases (LOXes) in pancreatic cancer with the goal of improving outcomes in patients. Pancreatic cancer has one of the poorest survival rates of all cancer, with only 25% of people surviving one year after diagnosis and only 8% for five years. Dr Cox will look at the tissue in and around pancreatic cancers, which can affect how successful chemotherapy treatment is in a patient.

Combining classical biology and engineering to generate 3D models that mimic tumours, along with cutting edge imaging technology and mouse models, Dr Cox will look at co-targeting the Lysyl Oxidase (LOX) family of ECM remodelling enzymes together with already approved cancer drugs to improve patient outcome.

“I’m very excited to be awarded this grant,” says Dr Cox. “There has been little progress in the clinical outcomes of pancreatic cancer for decades, but this funding will allow us to accelerate our research with the aim to improve the outcomes of patients.”

Professor Ormandy, who was awarded a Project Grant of $448,949 will be exploring how to overcome endocrine resistance in breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in women, with 16,000 women diagnosed every year in Australia. Professor Ormandy will investigate how to prevent and suppress the recurrence of endocrine insensitive disease by looking at the transcription factor ELF5.

ELF5 has been implicated in the process in which a phenotype makes endocrine-recurrent disease uncontrollable. This grant will provide the preclinical data to justify the development of therapies directed against ELF5.

“I’m very grateful to Cancer Council NSW for this grant,” says Prof Ormandy. “This funding will allow us to explore a new way of targeting endocrine resistance in patients with breast cancer, which remains a challenge to clinicians and researchers.”