ACRF funds ANU research into new cancer treatments

10 December 2015

This project has the potential to give an advantage to Australian cancer research and to develop new treatments that may have worldwide impact.

A bold new project by distinguished cancer researcher Professor Ross Hannan and his team at ANU has received a $2 million grant from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

The grant will be used to establish the ACRF Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at the ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR).

The ACRF funding will dramatically transform the capabilities available to Professor Hannan's research and will enable discovery-based research and development of new compounds, drugs and diagnostic approaches for cancer treatment.

"I am deeply honoured by the ACRF grant, which will help us find new ways to treat cancer and to help improve the lives of tens of thousands of Australians who contract the disease each year," Professor Hannan said.

New high-technology equipment will allow screening of Australian natural product collections to rapidly identify bioactive components that may be helpful in developing new cancer treatments.

The Centre will utilise Australia's Chemome (whole sets of small molecule natural products) and explore the existing collections for novel lead compounds that can be developed in to drugs for cancer therapy. 

In contrast to the limited chemical diversity of synthetically developed drugs, the structural diversity available within the Australian Chemome is unparalleled.

ACRF CEO Professor Ian Brown said the research had potential worldwide impacts.

"This project has the potential to give an advantage to Australian cancer research and to develop new treatments that may have worldwide impact," Professor Brown said.

"It's the kind of project that ACRF is known to fund - bold, building upon existing knowledge and opportunities, utilising the insights of Australia's gifted researchers and clinicians and focusing on truly ground-breaking ideas."

JCSMR Director Professor Simon Foote said the ACRF grant was a magnificent recognition of the work being done by the team led by Professor Hannan, who holds Centenary Chair in Cancer Research - a position jointly funded by ANU and the ACT Government.

"Professor Hannan is a strong and dynamic leader of a world-class research team, with a passion and vision to improve the lives of Australians who are living with cancer," Professor Foote said.

"The ACRF funding will be the catalyst needed for rapid and ambitious growth of the Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at JCSMR and cancer research in the Canberra region."

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO congratulated Professor Hannan on the ACRF grant.

"The ACRF funding is wonderful recognition of the work being done by Professor Hannan and his team to help find cures and to improve the daily lives of cancer patients," Professor Young said.

"On behalf of the University, I congratulate his team for this achievement, which will help drive cancer research both in Canberra and across Australia."

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation is Australia's leading cancer charity, dedicated to finding cures for cancer by funding infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment for world-class research into a disease that over 123,000 Australians are diagnosed with each year.

Since 1984, the ACRF has awarded more than $120 million in cancer research grants which have helped to bring cancer research in Australia to an unprecedented level.