The Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery and Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer are proud to announce the receipt of a prestigious $300,000 grant from The Collie Foundation. This grant will enable the department to continue its world-leading research in organoids.

This philanthropic grant confirms the continuing importance of the colorectal research platform that has been built up substantially at Cabrini Health with a new team of research scientists and collaborations, together with the impact of performing ground breaking clinical and translational bowel cancer research.

A joint research collaboration between the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery led by Associate Professor Paul McMurrick (Frohlich West Chair of Surgery), Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute with Associate Professor Helen Abud and her team, has developed an exciting research program that has the potential to create ‘personalised medicine’ whereby patients could be spared the gruelling trial and error approach to treatment, thereby taking some of the stress and anxiety out of bowel cancer treatment.

Following a diagnosis of bowel cancer, small amounts of both normal and cancerous tissue are taken from the colon of bowel cancer patients undergoing treatment at Cabrini Hospital. This tissue is then grown into living, three-dimensional tumours, known as ‘organoids’, that mimic the properties and traits of the tissue from which they are taken.

The aim, according to Associate Professor Paul McMurrick, is to develop organoids as a quick and cost-effective way to study tumour biology and determine the best treatment for an individual’s cancer.

“Organoids are of huge interest,” Associate Professor McMurrick said, “because it means that clinicians and scientists can now study our biology in action outside a patient’s body.”

Currently the research team has grown 74 organoids and are well on their way to their goal of developing a living biobank of 100. In addition to banking primary tumours, the team has also begun to bank metastatic tumours also known as secondary tumours, with progress going a significant way in studying how different tumours grow and what can be done to prevent their spread. This has been developed through Cabrini Hospital because Cabrini is the highest volume treatment centre for bowel cancer in Victoria in both the public and private sector, supported by a mature and well established patient follow-up clinical database.

“This new grant of $300,000 from The Collie Foundation,” said Associate Professor McMurrick, “will allow us to continue the Cabrini department of surgery’s research platform in an expanded fashion, and pursue such an exciting research and innovative clinical tool.”