Research on most difficult to treat breast cancer wins national awards

Friday, 30 November 2018

At the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands, Dr Anabel Sorolla Bardaji and a cancer research team, is investigating the use of tiny ‘nanoparticles’ as a treatment for one of the most challenging diseases, triple negative breast cancer.

Anabel SorollaHer ground-breaking work has been rewarded with a prestigious $160,000 Raine Medical Research Foundation Priming Grant. She has also been recognised with a $30,000 Healy Research Collaboration Award. 

“I am designing modern medicines and developing new treatments for triple negative breast cancers using polymeric nanoparticles.”

Triple negative breast cancers comprise approximately 20 per cent of all breast cancers. Currently there is no treatment that specifically targets them, in part because they do not express the three most common receptors that can be impacted by breast cancer drugs.

Nanoparticles are very tiny carriers, approximately one thousandth of a millimetre in diameter.

They have been used to transport ingredients used in cosmetic creams or detergents. In medicine, they have revolutionised the treatment options of many illnesses including cancer, iron deficiency, meningitis and macular degeneration.

“These tiny particles can be transported better in the bloodstream, absorbed easier by the tumour cells and are less toxic than other drug delivery models.

“Despite all these known advantages, current nano-formulations for anti-cancer treatment are still untargeted, so they accumulate in the spleen, liver and kidneys and don’t target tumour cells. 

“In our laboratory at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research we are developing new ways to change this scenario.

“In particular, we are decorating nanoparticles with certain material able to recognise and bind with the types of receptors present in large amounts in triple negative breast cancer.

“Our aim is to concentrate the nanoparticles in the breast cancer tumour,” she said.

Dr Anabel Sorolla Bardaji conducts some of her research in collaboration with the Spanish National Research Council. 

Fast Facts 

  • Dr Anabel Sorolla Bardaji was awarded a $160,000 Raine Priming Grant for research on: A novel therapeutic approach to treat triple negative breast cancers and the $30,000 Healy Research Collaboration Award for nanoparticle research
  • Dr Sam Buckberry won a Raine Research Prize for his high impact publication, and 
  • Dr Stephen Macdonald and Dr Belinda Guo were each awarded Raine Priming Grants for their innovative projects. 
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