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Find out more about Peter Mac's cancer care and research in our corporate publications.

Peter Mac's top ten recent breakthroughs in cancer treatment are summarised below, including where the findings were published.

January 2016

In a world-first clinical trial, Prof John Seymour and colleagues from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute show that patients with an advanced form of leukaemia can achieve complete remission with a potent new anti-cancer drug, venetoclax. The new therapy is proving effective in killing cancer cells in people with advanced forms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and provides new hope for all leukaemia patients. Results from this trial have led to the approval of the drug in the United States for patients with a particularly poor prognosis subset of relapsed CLL, with submissions planned in Europe and Australia.

Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

September 2015

Prof Mark Dawson’s Cancer Epigenetics team discovers how acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) fights back against a ground-breaking treatment. Knowing how the deadly cancer responds when under attack provides new leads for neutralising resistance before it develops. As part of the research – and for the first time – the team grows and maintains leukaemia stem cells in a laboratory dish, making it easier and faster to test new treatments with the potential to eradicate the disease.

Findings published in Nature.

July 2015

An international clinical trial co-led by A/Prof Boon Chua shows that radiation treatment of the lymph nodes – in addition to the breast – after breast cancer surgery can prolong the time women remain cancer-free.

Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

May 2015             

Prof David Bowtell leads international research providing the largest complete DNA analysis of ovarian cancer in the world. The work offers unprecedented insight into the genetic twists and turns that a deadly form of the disease takes to outsmart chemotherapy, potentially changing treatment approaches for women globally.

Findings published in Nature.

January 2015

A/Prof Prue Francis leads an international clinical trial that finds oestrogen suppression is a key weapon in helping to keep very young women disease-free following chemotherapy and surgery for hormone-responsive breast cancer. The results of the trial have changed treatment practice globally.

Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

December 2014

A/Prof Ben Solomon leads a global clinical trial showing that treatment with a new precision medicine, crizotinib, controls advanced lung cancer for twice as long as chemotherapy. The research changes treatment practice for people with a genetic subset of the disease who have newly diagnosed lung cancer.

Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

September 2014

Prof Grant McArthur releases findings of a breakthrough international clinical trial for people with advanced melanoma. The study shows a combination of two drugs targeting different proteins inside the melanoma work better than either alone in stopping the growth of the disease.

Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

April 2013

Using live microscope imaging, a team led by Prof Joe Trapani develops a world-first technique for visualising the precise moment a T cell delivers a killer blow to cancer cells, enabling them to define the stages of cancer cell killing at which things can go wrong.

Findings published in Blood.

October 2012

Familial cancer researchers led by A/Prof Paul James identify common variants in DNA from women with a strong personal and family history of breast cancer, in the process developing a world-first hierarchy of susceptibility to the disease. The findings significantly advance efforts to understand how a person’s genetic make-up can result in a high risk of breast cancer.

Findings published in Journal of Clinical Oncology.


Landmark research led by Profs Lester Peters and Danny Rischin demonstrates the critical impact of radiotherapy quality on survival of head and neck cancer patients, and that better outcomes are achieved in centres treating a higher number of patients.

Findings published in Journal of Clinical Oncology.