Lab tests showing promising results for breast cancer tumours

Updated 6 Nov 2020.

Professor Fiona Pixley (left) and PhD student Michael Murrey (right)

Professor Fiona Pixley (left) and PhD student Michael Murrey (right)

We have awarded almost $100,000 to cancer researchers at The University of WA (UWA) to continue their vital research into how to stop cancer spreading, following promising laboratory results that showed an 80 per cent decrease in breast cancer growth in mice treated with a new drug.

Research Project Grants recipient, UWA Associate Professor Fiona Pixley, said understanding how and why the drug works could potentially prevent invasive stage 3 and metastatic stage 4 cancers.

"From our previous research we know that this new drug has the ability to turn immune cells that promote cancer and help it spread, into cancer fighting cells that stop the cancer from spreading," Associate Professor Pixley said.

"What we don't know is how this happens."

Associate Prof Pixley said fewer than 25 per cent of women with aggressive breast cancer survive more than five years once their breast cancer has spread.

"This research is specifically focussing on the aggressive triple negative breast cancer as that is the one that behaves badly and for which newer treatments have not been developed," she said.

"Cancer spreads to other organs with the help of rogue macrophage cells, so this research grant will allow us to analyse how and why this new drug has the ability to retrain these rogue cells.

"Understanding the effect of this drug on breast cancer in mice will pave the way to examining its effect in human breast cancer and other cancers including lung, prostate, melanoma and mesothelioma, so we are incredibly grateful to Cancer Council WA and the generosity of the WA community for this grant."

Our CEO Ashley Reid praised the work of Professor Pixley and her colleagues.

"It is so encouraging to see passionate cancer researchers striving to ensure the best possible outcomes for local cancer patients and making such an important contribution to the global effort to defeat cancer," Mr Reid said.

"More than $2 million was allocated to support cancer research in 2019-2020 to 99 researchers for 40 projects, but now, more than ever, it is imperative the WA community continued to support cancer research.

"It is only through the generosity of the WA community that many local cancer researchers such as Professor Pixley are on the cusp of breakthroughs that have the potential to dramatically improve the way we prevent, detect and treat cancer.

"We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the WA community. This support has enabled us to make this substantial investment into world-class local research, and urge Western Australians to continue to support us during these challenging times."

More information

  • Since our research funding program began in 1963, we have contributed more than $53 million to 1154 local research projects.
  • Each year 12,000 West Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and approximately 4000 die as a result of their diagnosis.
  • Around 87,000 West Australians are currently living with cancer in our community.
  • We are the largest non-government funder of competitive cancer research in WA.

To view 2020 successful cancer researchers and projects.

The 2020 Cancer Council WA Research Awards will be held on Thursday 26 November 2020 at The Westin Perth.


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