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Donor Funding: $1,000,000
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Cancer Stage: Diagnosis and treatment
Funded in: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Professor Ross McKinnon
Flinders University

Despite many years of progress in cancer drug discovery, there remain unmet needs. We are currently undertaking three research programs.

Program 1:
We are using indigenous knowledge and Australia’s remarkable marine biodiversity to identify new compounds with therapeutic potential in cancer and related conditions.

Program 2:
Many biological markers can be used to determine whether a cancer treatment will be effective or not. We are using sophisticated statistical methods to determine if such biomarkers (biological indicators of disease) will be useful decision tools in cancer therapy.

Program 3:
We are studying the mechanisms by which cancer drugs are metabolised to determine ways to optimise drug strategies.

What we aim to achieve

Program 1:
Through our innovative drug discovery programs, we hope to produce new treatment strategies for cancer and reduce the side effects that currently limit current treatments. We believe that these strategies will unearth previously unexploited approaches.

Program 2:
We hope to accelerate the uptake of useful biological markers and limit the use of those of little value. The benefits to both patients and health budgets are potentially profound.

Program 3:
We hope to better understand the way the body processes current drugs and identify potential reasons for drug resistance.

Our next steps and milestones
We have a number of exciting plant extracts and novel molecules that are progressing through the drug development pipeline. Funding from Cancer Council SA donors has enabled us to develop novel discovery platforms that we are confident will produce novel treatment strategies over the next decade.

My wife succumbed to breast cancer when aged 40. During the 15 months she lived with cancer, she experienced major drug toxicities and many ineffective drug treatments. Many of these could have been avoided with better utilisation of biological markers and a higher level of pharmaceutical care. I am motivated to optimise drug treatments for future generations to avoid others experiencing such unfortunate circumstances.

My message to supporters
Drug discovery is a difficult and challenging task. The most important elements to success are:

  • Innovative sources of new drugs.
  • The capacity to take chances.
  • Ensured continuity of funding to enable as much value to be added to new drugs before they are licensed to manufacturers.

The generous support of Cancer Council SA donors provides this continuity of funding.