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22nd June 2023

$1.375 million to develop new ways of fighting breast cancer

Michael Samuel

The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) Group, Australian Breast Cancer Research (ABCR) and Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) are pleased to announce our prestigious Australian Breast Cancer Research Fellowship has been awarded to prominent cancer researcher, Professor Michael Samuel, to develop new therapies for breast cancer.

The $1.375 million five-year Fellowship will be undertaken at the BHI located at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital to investigate a potential new class of therapies to slow or stop the spread of breast cancer.

Prof Samuel was awarded the Fellowship after a competitive application process administered through THRF Group, to meet a significant need in fighting breast cancer.

Prof Samuel is recognised for his work in discovering how breast and other cancers exploit genetically normal cells within microenvironments to promote cancer metastasis (spread), developed at the Centre for Cancer Biology and University of South Australia.

He is known as a leader in the cancer microenvironment field and intends to use insights from his research, together with expertise from collaborators, to target the tumour-promoting microenvironment in breast cancers.

“New immunotherapies notwithstanding, we are yet to fully investigate the microenvironment for durable therapies,” Prof Samuel said.

“The deadliest cancers are those that invade and spread around the body. Invasive cancers hijack the normal cells around them to help them spread, including changing the stiffness of their surroundings.

“Halting this process is the holy grail of cancer research. This project aims to convert our new knowledge of this process into a novel class of breast cancer therapies.”

Paul Flynn, CEO of THRF Group, said improving treatments for advanced breast cancer was critical to save lives.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with 18,000 Australians diagnosed each year and a heartbreaking 3,000 dying from the disease,” Mr Flynn said.

“The number of deaths has plateaued over recent years despite declining in previous decades, so it is imperative that we investigate new approaches that stop breast cancer from progressing to its advanced deadly stage.”

Professor Guy Maddern, Director of Research at the BHI, said the Fellowship was targeted at the prevention, detection, management and treatment of breast cancer.

“Many of the issues surrounding breast cancer are also relevant for other cancers, providing further important guidance about their treatment,” Prof Maddern said.

“Professor Samuel’s group will fit in well with the expertise already working at the BHI.”