Researcher in bid to blow rogue cancer’s cover

A Western Australian cancer researcher is on a mission to blow the cover of a highly aggressive and difficult-to-detect form of breast cancer and believes a mysterious protein could hold the key to the breakthrough.

Fiona Stanley Hospital oncologist Dr Indunil Weerasena’s research follows important new findings, made by other local researchers, about the mysterious protein called AAMDC.

Research has shown that AAMDC not only hastened cancer cell proliferation but also made them resistant to the hormone and chemotherapies that were commonly used to fight ER positive breast cancers. High levels of AAMDC happen to be found in a subtype of cancer known as IC2. This subtype is known to have high rates of recurrence as well as resistance to contemporary chemotherapy regimes.

Dr Weerasena’s project, with the aid of a McGowan Government-funded Cancer Research Fellowship, aims to determine whether the rogue ER positive cancer is an IC2 subtype.

His findings could pave the way for the earlier identification of these cancers and more effective treatments, potentially with older chemotherapy regimes. Parallels between breast and ovarian cancer mean Dr Weerasena’s research may also have further benefits for the treatment of some ovarian cancer patients.

Dr Weerasena is one of seven researchers awarded a Cancer Research Fellowship in the WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network program.

More than $1.2 million will be distributed this year in the program that was established in 2014 to enable medical practitioners working in the WA Health system to expand their cancer expertise and research skills.

Read the full media statement

 

Full list of recipients

 Recipient Project Hospital
Eliska FurlongEvaluation of an enhanced influenza vaccination schedule in immunocompromised children undergoing treatment for cancer by assessment of cellular and humoral immune responsePerth Children’s Hospital
Timothy HumphriesIntegrating Tumour Mutational Burden testing for appropriate selection of immune-oncology therapy in metastatic melanomaSir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Andy HutchisonImplementation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy in Western AustraliaFiona Stanley Hospital
Azim KhanDefeating Breast Cancer Disadvantage in the Indigenous populationFiona Stanley Hospital
Annalise MartinPrecision Medicine, identification of novel drug targets for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in Western Australia through analysisRoyal Perth Hospital
Indunil WeerasenaIntegrated Cluster 2 Breast Cancers: The Wolf in Sheep’s ClothingFiona Stanley Hospital
Courtney WoodPaediatric Palliative Care FellowshipPerth Children’s Hospital