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$650,000 to initiate cancer research projects announced

The Cancer Research Trust NZ has just announced almost $650,00 across 15 grants to initiate and accelerate promising cancer research in New Zealand.

“Every year the Cancer Research Trust NZ encourages the brightest minds in the New Zealand cancer research community to submit projects and hypothesis's that are innovative and have great potential to make a significant impact on cancer prevention, detection and treatment here in New Zealand,” Trust Director Dr Douglas Ormrod said.

"In addition, funding is allocated to aid the personal development of our cancer researchers in order to help them facilitate the kind of research that is going to help get cancer on the run."

The grants have been awarded, after an extensive review by a twelve-person Assessment Committee, to support exciting New Zealand-based initiatives across the full spectrum of cancers and will help speed up discoveries in prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and end of life care.

A study that aims to provide novel therapeutic strategies to breast cancer treatment is just one of many innovative research projects funded.

Headed by Ms Khine Thida from the Department of Biomedicine and Medical Diagnostics, at the Auckland University of Technology, the study came out of the need to look at new ways to tackle breast cancer in New Zealand.

"As breast cancer is highly heterogeneous, current treatments are only effective for a subset of breast cancer", said Ms Thilda.

"As such, we always need to look at new ways to approach treatment intervention. We're hoping that this study into the cancer-promoting properties of the gene SPAG5, made possible by the support of the Cancer Research Trust, will do just that."

Breast cancer affects one in nine New Zealand females and is the leading cause of cancer death among women.

Fourteen other grants were awarded by the Cancer Research Trust NZ in addition to the over $60,000 that was awarded across 23 grants in the March 2018 Professional Development Award round.

This amount is on top of the previous round of funding which resulted in over $1,000,000 being awarded to aid cancer research.

Almost everyone in New Zealand, at some point, will be affected by cancer in their lifetime, and cancers devastating effects are felt in every New Zealand community. Each year more than 23,000 New Zealanders, young and old, men and women, will be diagnosed with cancer.

“Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters from around New Zealand we can award high-impact grants that allow New Zealand’s best minds in cancer to embark on innovative research projects that will help us get cancer on the run. These cancer research initiatives fall across the full spectrum of cancer and act as a catalyst to speed up game-changing discoveries.”

“Each grant round we fund many great research projects, but unfortunately we are always oversubscribed, and there are always excellent projects that fall below the budget cut off. We would love to have more money to support these talented NZ cancer researchers, so please consider donating to Cancer Research Trust NZ,” said Dr Ormrod.

“As every dollar donated to the Trust goes directly to supporting these projects, the public plays a direct role in enabling us to ensure that the most promising cancer research initiatives New Zealand receive the funding that they need,” added Dr Ormrod.

The recipients include:

  • A feasibility study of a non-pharmacological delirium prevention intervention for hospitalised Māori and non-Māori with advanced cancer being conducted by Dr Aileen Collier of the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland. The study will help researchers understand the best way to undertake a larger trial of delirium prevention for people with advanced cancer.
  • A study, being conducted by Dr Rod Dunbar, that is looking to extend the effectiveness of immunotherapy by using enzymes to help stimulate cancer-killing white blood cells.
  • A Palliative Care Lecture Series for health professionals across New Zealand that is delivered, without cost, by Hospice New Zealand, thanks to funding from the Cancer Research Trust NZ.
  • A study by the Auckland District Health Board which will explore how the move away from a patient centred holistic model of care has affected the ways in which palliative care is provided for people with a life limiting illness being cared for, and dying, at home. Findings will be used to develop a new integrated model of community palliative care by the Auckland DHB.
  • A study, by the University of Auckland School of Chemical Sciences, that is looking to utilize the plecstatins to inform the development of chemotheraputics to treat pancreatic cancer.
  • A study, being conducted by Dr Nicholas Fleming, that will look at how two biomarkers can be used to improve a new class of cancer treatments called the immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) (e.g. Keytruda).

Can can learn more about the full list of funded projects here.

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