Research to beat cancer | Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Research to beat cancer | Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


Cancer is one of the leading causes of disease burden in Australia. Characterised by an abnormal growth of cells, there are more than a hundred different types of cancers, affecting all areas of the human body. The impact of cancer is significant. In fact, one in two Australians will be diagnosed by the time they are 85. In South Australia, an average of 27 new diagnoses are made every day. The University of Adelaide is highly regarded for our expertise in cancer research. We have researchers leading the way in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bowel cancer, as well as leukaemia, myeloma, and cancers of the reproductive system. Our researchers examine every stage of cancer and its treatment. They identify the basis of cancers; find ways to improve early detection; design preclinical models to help understand how cancers spread and become resistant to chemotherapy; and develop and evaluate new drug treatments. Bowel cancer, sadly, is the second biggest killer from cancer in Australia, and we think that really is a tragic statistic when we know that it is a preventable disease. So if we can find the early cancers, then we can cure almost all of those patients. In the lab, we’re focusing on eradicating bowel cancer. So we’re looking at new ways to detect early cancers, and we’re also looking at understanding some of the DNA changes that are found in cancer, and we’re also lastly looking at drug treatments that might work for patients with metastatic cancer. So, looking for personalized medicine approaches, where a particular drug works specifically well for a particular patient. I’m really fortunate to work with Julie Marker who’s a bowel cancer survivor, and an extended group of people in our bowel cancer research interest group, and I think they’ve had a direct impact on the work that we do and inspiring me in my research. The work that Susi’s done around improving the screening and early detection of bowel cancer, I think that’s going to be a really important breakthrough in improving outcomes. Susi’s very clever! She’s been able to make significant leaps forward in quite a short time. Multiple myeloma currently affects about 140,000 people worldwide, and it’s predominantly a disease of the elderly. So, with Australia’s aging population, we actually have one of the highest incidences of this cancer in the world. Our research focuses on identifying the mechanisms responsible for disease progression in these high-risk patients and trying to identify new therapies that could be used to improve outcomes for these patients that traditionally do very poorly. I’m really excited to be leading a really dynamic and international team, and we’re working on something that’s totally new and unexplored in prostate cancer. The side effects of prostate treatment are really serious and they affect men’s quality of life for potentially decades. What we’re hoping to do is come up with better treatment strategies for prostate cancer that are going to work for more men. So we understand that the rates of cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are increasing rapidly, with an increase of threefold in the last 30 years. This is impacting significantly on the lives and well-being of families across the state. Research into cancer and how to overcome and prevent the complications are important to improving the life and well-beings of our communities and guiding health care systems to improve the way they respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Thanks to cancer research, over the past 20 years we’ve seen an 18% reduction in cancer mortality rates in Australia. Today almost seven in ten Australians will survive at least five years after their diagnosis. With talented researchers across the University of Adelaide working on new diagnostic techniques, preventative treatments, innovative drugs, and surgical interventions, we hope that our work will continue to improve these statistics, and the lives of cancer patients and their families in the future. [Music]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *