Cancer Researcher of the Year, Professor Gary Lee, Cancer Council WA CEO, Ashley Reid, and Cancer Council WA President, Professor George Yeoh.
Vital research into the treatment for those living with mesothelioma has emerged as the big winner at our annual research awards announced on 14 June 2019 at a special event in Perth.
Thanks to the support of our incredible donors and supporters, we have been able to fund $3 million worth of local cancer research this year. More than $600,000 of which has been directed towards research into mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos.
Our CEO, Ashley Reid, said the successful research projects were based on merit, so it was exciting to see almost 20 per cent of funding being directed into the early detection, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of mesothelioma.
"This is the 56th year of our donor-funded grants program that focuses on fostering a strong cancer research community in Western Australia," Mr Reid.
"Ninety-five cancer researchers have been selected for 48 projects and of those research projects, 11 will focus on mesothelioma.
"WA has the highest recorded incidence rate of mesothelioma of any Australian state, with the rate much higher in males.
"We've seen a steady increase in the number of reported new cases in Australian from 157 in 1982 to 710 in 2017. In 2015 there were 4152 deaths due to all asbestos-related diseases.
2019 Cancer Research of the Year
Also announced at the research awards lunch was the 2019 Cancer Researcher of the Year Award, received by Professor Gary Lee, who is also involved in mesothelioma research.
"Professor Lee successfully initiated and led two trials, both of which have brought major advancements in pleural medicine and which are contributing to greatly improved outcomes for patients," said Mr Reid.
Another Cancer Council WA research funding recipient, Professor Anna Nowak from the University of Western Australia, has received close to $100,000 to undertake laboratory tests to understand why some patients with mesothelioma respond better to a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
"We have completed a national clinical trial of combination chemotherapy with immunotherapy as first-line treatment in people living with mesothelioma," Professor Nowak said.
"The results of this study show exciting benefits.
"This new study will use existing and new laboratory techniques to look at a person's blood and tumour to predict who could benefit the most from the combined treatment and how we might enhance that benefit."
Event sponsor, Kott Gunning Lawyers, have contributed $20,000 towards a Research Fellowship for mesothelioma research.
Other areas of cancer research we're funding this year include:
• New therapies for liver cancer
• Investigating new ways to get the immune system to fight brain cancer
• Identifying the interaction between bone cells and leukaemia cells
• A blood test to measure disease in melanoma patients
• Examining if targeted exercise can slow tumour growth in breast and prostate cancer
• Investigating the correlation of fat and sugar in brain cancer
Our CEO Ashley Reid said that thanks to the generosity of the WA community, many local cancer researchers are on the cusp of breakthroughs that have the potential to dramatically improve the way we prevent, detect and treat cancer.
"It's vital that WA has a robust cancer research sector to ensure the best possible outcomes for local cancer patients and to make our contribution to the global effort to defeat cancer," Mr Reid said.
"A strong local cancer research community means more opportunities for West Australians to participate in potentially life-saving clinical trials and have access to prevention, detection and treatment options they may not otherwise have.
"Our robust peer-review structure ensures we direct funding to the highest calibre research conducted across a range of local institutes and universities.
"Thousands of West Australians are alive today because of research - but there's still a long way to go to make sure patients with less common, poor prognosis cancers have better outcomes.
"We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the WA community, which has enabled us to make this substantial investment into world-class local research."