170330 ONJCRI 0040
 Nov 29, 2017

New cancer imaging centre to shine a light on the life of a tumour

A $2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF), announced today, will fund a state-of-the-art imaging centre to understand how and why tumours corrupt the normal cells of their immediate environment.

The grant enables the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) and La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS) to extend its ground-breaking work on the interaction between individual tumour cells and normal cells, and accelerate the speed with which results in the laboratory can be translated into treatments for cancer patients.

‘Cellular interactions are crucial for tumours – they drive the growth of tumours and their spread to metastatic sites; these interactions are also often responsible for tumours becoming resistant to targeted therapy,’ Professor Matthias Ernst, Scientific Director of ONJCRI, said. ‘This new centre will literally shine a light on what happens in the micro-environment around a tumour, giving us the information we need to develop effective, targeted anti-cancer therapies.’

‘We know that tumour cells coerce and corrupt their environment to their advantage. If we understand the interactions and mechanisms they use to do this, we will better understand how to counter them.’

Professor Ernst, who is also the Head of the School of Cancer Medicine at La Trobe University, welcomed the generous support of the ACRF. 

‘Australia is blessed with world-class cancer research and is playing a lead in the development of anti-tumour treatment, including those that harness the power of the body’s own immune system. We all recognise that our research achievements have to stay abreast of the rising rates of cancer, and the new ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment will facilitate that.’

‘The ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Microenvironment will offer cutting edge capabilities for researchers both at the ONJCRI and at LIMS who are studying the interactions between cancer cells. The collaborative opportunities that will arise from the centre will also greatly benefit advances in cancer research,’ said Professor Andrew Hill, Head of La Trobe University’s Institute for Molecular Sciences.

‘The ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment will provide new insights into how the micro-environment impacts tumour growth, leading to new targeted and immune based cancer treatments that will benefit all Australian cancer patients,’ ACRF Chief Executive, Professor Ian Brown, said. 
‘Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters from around Australia we are able to award high-impact grants, allowing Australia’s best scientists to embark on ground-breaking research projects. These cancer research initiatives cover all types of cancer and speed up discoveries, ultimately working to save lives by saving time,’ says Professor Brown.

Each year ACRF challenges the Australian cancer research community to propose projects that are bold and have the potential to make a significant impact on cancer prevention, detection and treatment. 
In 2017, thirteen projects were submitted from across the country and evaluated by ACRF’s esteemed Medical Research Advisory Committee. The Committee recommended four grants to the ACRF Board for projects that have the greatest potential to change treatment outcomes for all Australian cancer patients.

For further details or to arrange interviews: Kim Tsai; Chief Operating Officer, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute; M: +61 0411 742  221  |  E: kim.tsai@onjcri.org.au 


About the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute is a leader in the development of experimental and breakthrough cancer treatments. We investigate and develop treatments for cancers of the breast, bowel, lung, melanoma, prostate, liver, gastrointestinal and brain. Our researchers and clinicians are running more than 200 clinical trials, giving patients access to potential new treatments including immunotherapies and personalised medicine. 

The Research Institute is integrated within the ONJ Centre, with research laboratories only metres away from where patients are cared for and receive treatment. This inspires and enables the rapid translation of scientific discovery into clinical trial of new, better, cancer treatments.

About the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

Launched in 2009, the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS) brings together La Trobe University’s leading researchers to work on some of the most critical problems at the interface of health and science. Our vision is achieved through excellence in six areas of research strength: cancer, infection and immunity, neurobiology, molecular design, molecular imaging and molecular sensing.

About Australian Cancer Research Foundation

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) supports Australian cancer research to end all types of cancer. ACRF provides funding for cutting-edge research technology and infrastructure to speed up discoveries in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. For more information, please visit www.acrf.com.au