A new approach to treating tumours has recently been awarded UWA PATHFINDER funding to explore its commercial potential.
Developed by Dr Juliana Hamzah and her team at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, the novel approach uses a targeted drug to 'soften up' tumours, making them more likely to respond to helpful immune cells and other forms of treatment.
Solid tumours are known to be stiffer and more rigid than normal tissues – in the case of breast cancer for example, diseased tissue can be 10 times stiffer than normal breast, which can present a significant barrier for drug delivery.
Dr Hamzah had already been working with UWA's Research Development and Innovation (RDI) office to prepare and file a provisional patent application on the treatment.
RDI’s Dr Louis Pymar said a major hurdle for many cancer therapies is that the diseased tissue is not very accessible to drugs circulating in the blood.
“This makes it difficult to give an effective dose precisely where it is needed,” said Dr Pymar. “This approach is interesting in that by softening the stiffened tumour tissue, we have a better chance of delivering an effective dose in a targeted fashion.
"With the Pathfinder funding we're hoping that the team will be able to demonstrate that the drug is effective in pre-clinical models of cancer, which is something we'll need to do if we are to attract interest from a pharmaceutical company and develop it further", he said.
Dr Hamzah said she is excited about the prospects for the project.
"The patent application has protected the idea and the Pathfinder funding gives me the opportunity to quickly test it – much quicker than if I had to apply for a normal grant,” she said.
Dr Hamzah said she hopes to have the work completed by early 2017.
Information on Pathfinder funding is available here.
David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716