Cure Cancer and St Vincent’s Curran Foundation are excited to announce a new three-year funding partnership supporting immunotherapy research for lung cancer.
Immunotherapy is one of the most exciting emerging fields in medicine. It is an antibody treatment that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer and is providing important advances in the management of advanced lung cancer.
The emerging field of Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy has a huge potential for patients with advanced lung cancer, however much is still unknown about why the treatment works so successfully for some and not for others.
Dr Venessa Chin, medical oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, is using cellular genomics, or single cell sequencing, to better determine which lung cancer patients will respond best to immunotherapy. With Cure Cancer’s grant funding, Dr Chin aims to uncover new cell biology that will enable clinicians to make more informed treatment choices for patients, based on who will respond to this type of treatment.
“The two broad aims of the project include improving our understanding of what inherited factors may lead to a non-smoker developing a lung cancer and to detect cancer cells that are likely to be resistant to this type of therapy, before commencing treatment.” Explains Dr Chin.
“Currently, immunotherapy is costly and not well-understood, so it is often the last-line of defence recommended for people with end-stage cancer. Our long-term ambition is to be able to identify which patients will benefit from immunotherapy and ensure they can commence treatment sooner”.
Theo’s lifesaving immunotherapy treatment
62 year old Theo Theodosi, a patient of Dr Chin’s, is testament to the potential of immunotherapy. Diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer in 2017, Mr Theodosi was not a suitable candidate for surgery, chemo or radiation therapies. Fortunately he came under the care of Dr Chin and commenced treatment on an immunotherapy drug, which resulted in complete resolution of the cancer in his lymph nodes. This paved the way for successful surgical removal of the remaining cancer.
“Before going on the immunotherapy regime, I was given 6 months to live. Now I am cancer free and feel better than ever,” says Mr Theodosi.
“The power of this treatment in harnessing the body’s immune system to fight the cancer is extraordinary and I hope that, in time, it can be offered to everyone who stands to benefit from it”.
A powerful new agreement advancing the field
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia excluding non-melanoma cancers. It is responsible for almost one in five cancer deaths in Australia.
The support provided by Cure Cancer through this new partnership will enable early-career cancer researchers such as Dr Chin to make important advances in the applications of immunotherapy, as well as fostering our next generation of medical leaders.
St Vincent’s Curran Foundation have matched the support of Cure Cancer’s generous grant with private philanthropy.