The following is a list of major grants awarded to the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery for bowel cancer research and medical treatment projects.

2015 - 2016

♦ Funding Agency

Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA): $2 Million Translational Research Project grant over three years.

Project Title

Super-enhancer templated RNAs as predictive biomarkers of BET inhibitor sensitivity in prostate and colorectal cancer.

Investigators

Dr Arun Azad (Lead Applicant), Dr Ron Firestein, A/Prof Helen Abud, A/Prof Paul McMurrick, Prof Gail Risbridger, Dr Simon Wilkins.

Research Partners

Cabrini health, Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Monash University.

Summary

This grant will start a Phase II clinical trial aimed at identifying which patients with bowel or prostate cancer will respond well to a new suite of anti-cancer drugs called BET inhibitors.

BET inhibitors are a class of epigenetic modulators which target the actual DNA of the tumour cells. The trial aims to predict which sub set of patients will benefit from treatment with the BET inhibitor drug regime, by identifying a biomarker and then evaluating which can be applied at the point of diagnosis, to detect BET sensitivity.

Using unique banks of prostate and bowel cancer tissue for preclinical studies, investigators retrospectively looked at which patients responded to BET inhibitors and found markers they believe they can predict the “best responders” to the therapy.

Having identified these markers, the research team will conduct a three-year trial that utilises patient biopsies to see whether they have markers associated with BET inhibitor responsiveness and then to follow these patients as they receive the treatment.

The Phase II trial is expected to begin within 12 months. Twenty-four patients with Stage IV malignancy will be recruited, and the researchers expect to have a suite of markers associated with responders and non-responders to BET inhibitors within 24 months.

Prostate and bowel cancers are the biggest causes of cancer deaths in Australia. Despite advances in early screening, there is significant need to bring new treatments to patients.

 

♦ Funding Agency

Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSSANZ): Project grant $100,00 for two years

Project Title

ADIPOSe- Australasian Decrease in Intra-Pelvic Obesity for Surgery Trial- Using VLED’s to reduce weight and improve outcomes in obese individuals undertaking rectal cancer surgery.

Investigators

Six Investigators including Steve Bell, A/Prof Paul McMurrick and Dr Simon Wilkins.

 

♦ Funding Agency

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC): Project Grant $646,698.20 over three years.

Project Title

Role of Snail proteins in mediating intestinal stem cell identity.

Investigators

CIA A/Prof Helen Abud, CIB Hime, CIC Jones, CID A/Prof Paul McMurrick.

Research Partners

Monash University and Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery.

Summary

The lining of the intestine is constantly renewed by stem cells which also contribute to replenishment of this layer following damage caused by trauma, infection or treatments such as chemotherapy. We are studying how a family of gene regulators called Snail proteins act to maintain stem cells in the gut. Snail proteins have also been found to be present at high levels in bowel tumours so we are examining their role in the genesis of tumours and resistance to common treatments.