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Donor Funding: $75,000
Cancer Type: All cancers
Cancer Stage: Treatment, Survivorship and Supportive Care
Funded in: 2017, 2018

Professor Pamela Sykes
Flinders University

Our research
High dose radiotherapy is widely used to kill tumour cells but some of the radiation can harm normal cells, leading to unwanted side-effects. This project uses a novel chemical that specifically protects normal cells, which will alleviate the unwanted side effects, while increasing cure rates by making the tumour cells more sensitive to the radiation. The results from this study will be applicable to any cancer where radiotherapy is used as a treatment.

What we aim to achieve
Our research has the potential to ameliorate unwanted side effects of radiotherapy caused by damage to surrounding normal tissue and, at the same time, increase the effectiveness of the radiotherapy on the cancer cells. To be able to reduce side effects such as rectal injury with diarrhoea and/or bleeding, incontinence, impotence and infertility in prostate cancer patients, or swallowing difficulties and breathlessness from thoracic irradiation, would have an enormous impact on quality of life for these patients.

Our next steps and milestones
Our next steps would be to undertake human clinical trials for prostate cancer radiotherapy. We also think that this approach is equally applicable to all cancers where radiotherapy is used, so expanding our work into other cancer types would be a priority so that more patients could potentially benefit.

What motivates me
It is my passion and working in a facility where patients, clinicians and researchers are all focused on better outcomes provides daily inspiration.

My message to supporters
I want donors to know that their funding makes a real difference. In our case, this funding is supporting our research at a critical stage – we have data that looks extremely promising in our model system. We are aiming to establish a new paradigm for prostate cancer radiotherapy: improving prostate cancer outcomes and reducing treatment-associated side-effects. We will use these funds to extend the work to the stage where we can move into clinical trials.