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03 Mar 2022

US Defense Department backs breast cancer research

A Garvan project to explore a potential new approach to treating fibrosis in breast cancer has been awarded a grant from the US Department of Defense.

Paul Timpson

An innovative cancer research project at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has been awarded a highly competitive $775,000 (US$555,500) grant from the US Department of Defense.

Professor Paul Timpson will lead the project, which will test whether a new therapy that targets the dense fibrotic tissue in breast cancer can reduce tissue fibrosis and improve the performance of chemotherapy.

The formation of tough, fibrous tissue around a tumour is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer initiation and progression and is commonly found in aggressive cancers such as triple-negative breast cancer. It’s also known to protect cancer cells from treatments including chemotherapy.

Professor Timpson and his team will use advanced imaging technology to monitor live tumours in real-time to assess how effective the new medication is in targeting fibrosis and understand how best it can be combined with chemotherapies to maximise the benefit to patients.

The findings of this study could help improve outcomes for aggressive triple-negative breast cancers, as well as other cancer types where fibrosis reduces the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Funding for this project comes through the US Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, a highly competitive grant program available to research institutes around the world that was initiated to target critical gaps in basic to translational research. Professor Timpson says that having three projects at Garvan receive grants through the program is testament to the quality of the research that has been conducted at the Institute and the expertise of Garvan researchers.

“These projects have stood out from an incredibly competitive crowd of international researchers and highlight our strength in combining basic research, world-leading imaging technology, and our commitment to delivering clinically relevant discoveries that improve patient outcomes,” says Professor Timpson.