Supporting people in hospitals across South Australia through vital health and medical research and improved patient care.
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The Breast Cancer Research Unit at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) are determined to develop a new immunotherapy treatment to target breast cancer and other heartbreaking cancers affecting our community.
The team are hard at work developing a non-invasive gel that is comprised of our own cancer fighting immune cells that can then be injected into inoperable breast cancer tumours and eradicate the cancer cells present.
To ensure the gel is made up of the right compounds to be successful, Honours student Kyle Brewer has been investigating if a particular compound derived from seaweed could help in the formation of this gel. To conduct this vital research, Kyle is supported with a scholarship from The Hospital Research Foundation.
“One of the main issues with adoptive cell therapy is that if you just inject the cancer fighting cells into the body near the tumour they’ll just diffuse throughout the body. This means not as many cells are able to make contact with the cancer tumour,” Kyle said.
This new gel comprised of cancer fighting cells (T cells) could prove key to overcoming this issue.
“My project entails trying to identify compounds that we could use to help form the gel. At the moment I’m specifically looking at a compound that is derived from seaweed which forms a gel when it is at a certain temperature. I’m investigating adding some modification to the compound to make it form a gel at body temperature to mimic what would happen in a patient,” Kyle said.
Kyle is working alongside PhD student Namfon (Bee) Pantarat who is also working on the composition of this gel to ensure it will have the best result of killing the cancer once in the patient.
“My project involved working out exactly what compounds will be suitable to help this gel be mechanically strong enough to be given to patients,” Kyle said.
“In an ideal setting we would have this seaweed compound, mix it with the cells that Bee is working on and inject it into someone’s inoperable cancer tumour.
“Once this solution is in the body, the temperature will cause it to form a gel, like aeroplane jelly consistency, and hold the cancer fighting cells in place, so they can escape but only very slowly, and over an extended period of time. The idea is then that the cells will migrate out and destroy the cancer tumour.”
This revolutionary gel has the potential to open up new treatment avenues for women diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer. We look forward to keeping you updated as this life-changing work continues to progress.
you can support lifesaving research
Thanks to your generous support, each year The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) funds travel grants to support researchers and students to attend various conferences and meetings relevant to their field of research, having the opportunity to network with fellow researchers around the globe. read more
Head of the Cell Signalling Laboratory at the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB), Associate Professor Yeesim Khew-Goodall is leading a crucial research project focused on overcoming resistance to cancer therapy, particularly in triple negative breast cancer. read more
Can you imagine being diagnosed with a type of cancer that has no targeted treatments? This could change thanks to researchers at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) who are working hard to investigate possible treatments for triple negative breast cancer. read more
World-first research is underway at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) focusing on using our own immune system to fight solid cancers such as breast cancer with potential for other cancers. read more
Thanks to the incredible generosity of one of our very special donors, Dr Margaret Elcombe, our researchers have been awarded the Elcombe Pre-Clinical Project Grant to pursue a promising new treatment avenue for breast cancer that has spread which if successful would be far less toxic than current treatments. read more
Leading cutting-edge research into inflammation in a variety of cancers, Professor Vinay Tergaonkar from Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*Star) joined the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) in 2016, a unique new research laboratory collaboration. read more
In 2015 we introduced you to the incredible work of Dr Bill Panagopoulos, who was leading world-first research into an enzyme believed to play an essential role in the spread of breast cancer to the bone. Finishing his PhD last year, we’re excited to share with you the results of his research as he moves one step closer to a new treatment for secondary breast cancer. read more
Ground-breaking research is underway boosting the body’s own immune system to fight the most common cancers affecting Australian families, including breast cancer. The treatment is known as immunotherapy, and whilst it’s currently revolutionising blood cancer treatment, when it comes to solid cancers like breast cancer it’s not known to be as effective. read more
Adelaide researchers are one step closer to breast cancer prevention after finding a new driver for breast density, an identified risk factor for breast cancer. read more