[ASC-media] Special children's cancer funding supports drug discovery

Miriam Pollak mpollak at ccia.org.au
Mon Jul 2 07:52:05 CEST 2007

July 2, 2007

Special children's cancer funding supports drug discovery 

Executive Director of Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) for Medical Research, Professor Michelle Haber AM, has announced the award of a $3.1 million new grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) to establish a dedicated childhood cancer drug discovery facility.

This comes as part of a joint announcement with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) regarding construction of a world-class cancer research centre which is due to commence in August 2007.

"There is nothing more tragic than to see children suffering from cancer and the side effects of their treatment programs. It is an absolute privilege for ACRF to be able to make this grant to the brilliant research team at CCIA to accelerate research work into the care and treatment of childhood cancer patients", said ACRF Chief Executive, Mr David Brettell.

"We are grateful to the Estate of the late Mrs B M McDonnell, whose generosity has made it possible to dedicate such a significant grant to this significant new children's research project" said Mr Brettell.

 "This most important grant from the ACRF, will allow us to develop new approaches to cancer drugs used in treating children which is part of our vital research into the causes, prevention, better treatments and ultimately a cure for childhood cancer", said Professor Haber.

The state-of-the-art drug discovery facility to be known as the ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer, will focus on the development of new drugs that will be less toxic and more effective in the treatment of a range of cancers

"Despite previous successes, every week, three Australian children still die of their disease and many of those who do survive experience long term side effects  from their treatment", said Professor Haber.

"If we are to see improved treatment outcomes for all children with cancer, research efforts need to be directed towards finding new and safer agents that can be used to treat these children.

"The new ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer will utilise an exciting and innovative research approach in which the first stage is to screen cancer cells for genes that could be targeted specifically to inhibit their growth. Following validation of these target genes, we can then use this information to screen chemical libraries for small molecules that will block the action of these rogue genes in the cancer cells.

"The chemical small molecules identified by this process then become the precursors of new anti-cancer drugs.

"The aim is to one day see tailored treatments that only affect cancer cells and spare normal tissues giving children with cancer a better chance at a healthy future", said Professor Haber.
The ACRF Drug Discovery Centre for Childhood Cancer is expected to be open in 2009.

Media Contacts:
Miriam Pollak, CCIA
Phone: 9962 5663
Email: mpollak at ccia.org.au 

Suzi Graham, ACRF
Phone: 9223 7833
Email: sgraham at acrf.com.au

Miriam Pollak
Public Relations Executive
Children's Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research
Direct: 02 9382 0641
Mobile: 0419 697 673
Fax: 02 9382 0070

Children's Cancer Institute Australia is the only independent medical research institute in Australia solely devoted to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Our vision is to save the lives of all children with cancer and eliminate their suffering.
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