A new approach to treating tumours, developed at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, has received funding to explore its commercial potential.
Dr Juliana Hamzah and her team developed a targeted drug to ‘soften up’ tumours, making them more vulnerable to immune cells and other anti-cancer treatments.
A major hurdle for many cancer treatments is that cancerous tissue is stiffer than normal tissue, making it difficult for drugs to infiltrate tumours.
Dr Hamzah said solid tumours are known to be firm and rigid, which can present a significant barrier for drug delivery.
“In the case of breast cancer, for example, diseased tissue can be 10 times stiffer than normal breast, this makes it difficult to give an effective dose precisely where it is needed,” Dr Hamzah said.
Dr Hamzah said her new approach is significant because by softening the stiffened tumour tissue, we can deliver anti-cancer drugs more effectively inside the tumour to kill cancer cells.
The project has received UWA Pathfinder funding, which supports the team in demonstrating the effectiveness of the drug in pre-clinical cancer models before they partner with a pharmaceutical company to develop the treatment further.
Dr Hamzah has already filed a provisional patent for the drug which will protect the concept while she completes the investigation. She said she hopes to have the work completed by early 2017.