Personalised Cancer Therapeutics
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, which still kills 94% of the people it afflicts. The average survival of metastatic pancreatic cancer patients, even with treatment is only 6 months and novel treatment approaches are desperately needed.
Our vision is to build on our recent discoveries in the field of cancer genomics (published in Nature 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) to develop novel personalised approaches for the treatment of both primary operable and metastatic pancreatic cancer. Our team is multidisciplinary, comprising individuals from diverse disciplines ranging from basic biology, laboratory discovery and preclinical testing, biomarker development and implementation.
Cutting edge tools to study pancreatic cancer:
We have established a unique Australian resource, comprising of well annotated patient-derived xenografts of pancreatic cancer and a large well annotated panel of patient-derived cell lines from the patients that have been sequenced as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium. Collectively, these models represent an invaluable resource of renewable material for the discovery of biomarkers and testing novel therapeutic combinations, and are readily available to the wider research community; please see: http://www.pancreaticcancer.net.au/bioresource-pdcls/
Our research program centres on two key areas: :
(i) Validating new drug targets and developing optimal combination therapies for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. These activities will rely on my expertise in the development of pancreatic patient-derived xenograft (PDX), cell line (PDCL) transplant models and new organoid-based co-culture models to study the intricate interactions between specific cancer-specific signalling components and key cues from the microenvironment and how these may be modulated with novel drug combinations (see our publications in Gut, Sci Transl Med).
(ii) To better understand how anti-cancer drug resistance develops. To this end, we are applying a combination of whole genome sequencing, transcriptomic and other molecular analyses to document the emergence of chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer. The unique design of our ongoing preclinical personalised trials enables effective assessment of intrinsic and acquired therapeutic resistance (for example our studies in Nature (2015), Clin Cancer Res (2017) and Cancer Res (2018). Our ultimate goal is to refine tailored treatment strategies for PC, overcome or circumvent treatment resistance and build optimal, effective treatment combinations for patients with this disease.