CORE TRANSLATIONAL PROJECTS

The Lung Cancer Research Networks priority goal is to develop innovative solutions that will improve the healthcare outcomes and quality of life for people suffering with lung cancer. As part of this goal the Network has identified a number of streams or 'Core Translational Projects' These projects leverage the large Network of basic scientists and health-care professionals working in the area of lung cancer and are broadly split into early diagnosis, therapy, improving quality of life and improving clinical care. These projects are classified as translational since we will rapidly translate findings and new discoveries to the clinic, to make a positive impact for those diagnosed with lung cancer.

 
 
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Core translation project 1:
AIRWAY STENTS

The Challenge: Lung cancer patients often have to have an airway stent inserted post surgery to maintain lung structure and keep the airways open. However, unlike cardiovascular stents, which are highly advanced, there has been little change to airway stent design since 1965. Depending on their design, current stents dislodge easily, are coughed up, or get integrated into the surrounding tissue making removal almost impossible.

Revolutionising Airway Stents: Using a combination of image recognition and 3D-printing, Jesse is developing a platform that can produce personalised airway stents that are biocompatible and easily installed. Not only will this improve the quality of life for those who need airway stenting but it will also significantly reduce the burden on the health care system. Current stents are thousands of dollars. With an integrated 3D-printing platform in a surgery, the cost per stent can be reduced to cents.

About the Team Leaders: Dr Hui Xin Ong (Lecturer in Pharmacology, University of Sydney) Prof Paul Young (Head of Respiratory Technology, Woolcock) Dr Michael Byrom (Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), Dr Jonathan Williamson (Respiratory Physician at Liverpool Hospital) and Jesse Xu PhD Candidate, University of Sydney. Together they bring expertise to make this vision a reality. This project is one of many that will be run from the new state-of-the-art Centre for Lung Cancer Research being constructed in Glebe, Sydney.

 

CORE TRANSLATION PROJECT 2:
NON-INVASIVE EARLY DIAGNOSIS

The Challenge: We have made major advances in cancer screening over the past decades. Cancers such as breast and prostate cancers now have routine diagnostic tests that have made significant impact on people at risk and on the health care system. While we have made many advances in diagnostic testing, we have not made any major advances in lung cancer screening. Currently screening takes place when a patient presents with a problem and the presence of lung cancer picked up during x-ray imaging. We desperately need an easy to use, non-invasive diagnostic kit for patients at risk, allowing early detection and thus improved health care outcomes.

Making Early Diagnosis a Reality: Through the Network, a team of specialists in genetics, cell biology and clinical services have joined forces to develop a non-invasive early diagnostic kit. The kit essentially will monitor airway cells to look for small genetic differences that indicate the presence or potential onset of lung cancer. As phase one of the project, the team will work with the wider Network to collect vital samples from patients diagnosed with Lung Cancer and compare these to healthy samples. With the diagnostic method finalised we will move into wider population studies with at-risk subjects. Ultimately, we will develop a simple kit that can be used by general-practice healthcare professionals or by individuals at home.

About the Team Leaders: Prof Neil Watkins (Cancer Genetics, Garvan Institute), Dr Steven Kao (Respiratory Oncologist, ADRI and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) Dr Hui Xin Ong (Cell Biology, Woolcock & University of Sydney), Dr Lucy Morgan (Respiratory Physician, Concord Hospital), Prof Paul Young (Respiratory Technology, Woolcock Institute)

 

CORE TRANSLATION PROJECT 3:
INNOVATIVE THERAPIES

The Challenge: Current chemotherapies for lung cancer are administered systemically. Subsequently, lung patients undergoing treatment have significant side effects from the therapy due to unwanted toxic side effects on other parts of the body. An innovative approach is required to minimise side-effects and make the quality of life for those undergoing therapy better. Furthermore, targeted therapies will improve effectiveness of treatment and thus healthcare outcomes.

Targeted drug delivery: Members of the Network are developing a number of innovative drug delivery platforms that can be used for current chemotherapeutics but also new investigational molecules. The team have expertise in drug delivery technologies and have a number of partnerships with industry that will make the technology a reality. The key goal is to ensure therapies effectively target tumour cells while avoiding toxic effect to healthy cells

About the Team Leaders: Prof Matthew Peters (Respiratory Physician, Concord Hospital), Prof Paul Young (Respiratory Technology, Woolcock Medical Research Institute)