Three Peter Mac research projects have successfully won grants under Cancer Council Victoria’s Grants-in-Aid program.

The prestigious Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) Grants-in-Aid program will fund $3.3 million in high-quality research exploring the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all cancer types. 

The three successful Peter Mac projects include analysing “liquid biopsies” to improve prostate cancer, enhancing function and persistence of CAR T cells for cancer therapy, and improving cancer immunotherapy. 

Read more about each project below. 

Analysing “liquid biopsies” to improve prostate cancer (2023-2025) 
Associate Professor Arun Azad, Dr Heidi Fettke, Professor Michael Hofman, Dr Tu Nguyen-Dumont 
This research aims to identify which prostate cancer patients will benefit most (and least) from Lu-PSMA treatment, in order to improve patient selection. In this world-first study, researchers aim to uncover resistance mechanisms to Lu-PSMA to define future novel combination strategies in clinical trials. 

“Prostate cancer kills more than 375,000 people globally every year, including more than 3,000 in Australia alone,” Associate Professor Azad said.  

“This work will ultimately optimise and improve the efficacy of Lu-PMSA, resulting in better outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer.” 

Click here for the full project summary. 

Enhancing function and persistence of CAR T cells for cancer therapy (2023-2025) 
Professor Phillip Darcy, Associate Professor Paul Beavis 

The aim of this project is to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies on solid cancers by validating a novel CRISPR/Cas9 HDR gene-editing approach for CAR T cells. 

“I have several family members and close friends who have been diagnosed with cancer or passed away from the disease,” Professor Darcy said.  

“This has always driven my motivation and desire to work on improving the effectiveness and safety of new treatments for cancer.” 

Click here for the full project summary. 
Improving cancer immunotherapy (2023-2025) 
Professor Axel Kallies, Associate Professor Shahneen Sandhu 

The aim of this project is to characterise the cells responsible for mediating anti-tumour immunity, understanding the pathways that regulate the abundance and function of these cells, and targeting them to improve cancer therapies. 

“My vision is to translate our cutting-edge research based on preclinical models of cancer to improve patient outcomes,” Professor Kallies said. 

Click here for the full project summary. 

A further two Peter Mac researchers are collaborating on additional projects awarded CCV grants. Associate Professor Shahneen Sandhu is working with the University of Melbourne to improve cancer immunotherapy, while Dr Dineika Chandrananda is partnering with Monash University on a project involving ctDNA to monitor non-genomic evolution on Peripheral T-cell lymphoma. 

Peter Mac is proud to receive three out of the 13 Grants-in-Aid programs available in 2023 and look forward to advancing our management of cancer with this funding.