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$38.4M NHMRC program grants extend cancer and blood cell research
Date:3/8/2011

Institute research into how cancer develops and blood cell production and function will today be awarded $38.4 million under the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) program grants scheme.

The nine Australian medical research programs that have been successful in securing $107 million in program grant funding will be announced at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute by the Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Honourable Mark Butler, at 10.15am on Tuesday 8 March.

Cancer researchers at the institute will receive $21.3 million to further research on the genetic changes that provoke cancer and to develop new approaches to its diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Ten scientists from five institute divisions will lead the research, with collaborators from the Burnet Institute and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Professor Jerry Adams, joint head of the institute's Molecular Genetics of Cancer division and one of the program's chief investigators, said the prospects seemed bright that the program would yield findings of great biological importance and lead to significant improvements in cancer treatment.

"We are now focused upon understanding two hallmarks of cancers: how they evade the body's normal program of cell death and how, like normal stem cells, they can multiply indefinitely," he said.

Professor Adams stressed that evasion of programmed cell death, also called apoptosis, is both a crucial step in tumour development and a major barrier to successful long-term treatment. "We discovered that cell death is often blocked in cancer cells, so we are now attempting to develop drugs that flip the natural 'cell death switch' back on," he said.

Understanding the stem-cell-like behaviour of cancers is also highly relevant to therapy, he said. "Certain cancers may be driven by 'rogue' stem cells that can escape current treatments and cause a relapse. If so, eradication of these rare cells wi
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Contact: Liz Williams
williams@wehi.edu.au
61-393-452-928
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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