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8th January 2023

Is injectable cancer gel the next frontier?

Andreas & Nikolaos

A team of researchers is continuing to develop an injectable, non-invasive gel to fight tumours in cancer patients.

The gel will be filled with a mixture of the patient’s own cancer fighting T cells and cancer cell sensitizing drugs as a treatment for solid cancer tumours.

Thanks to your donations to ABCR, Professor Andreas Evdokiou, Head of the Breast Cancer Research Unit at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, is pioneering this exciting work with help from his team including Dr John Licari and Masters student Nikolaos Filippatos.

The project is described as ‘the next frontier’ for immunotherapeutic innovations in cancer treatment.

If successfully applied, this gel treatment has the potential to improve T cell-based immunotherapy for a variety of cancers, including breast cancer.

Nikolaos said the technology not only allows the drug to be delivered directly to cancer cells, but it also allows a specific type of T cell to recognise the cancer to attack and destroy the tumours.

“In fact, we are currently testing its effectiveness on Glioblastoma – a devastating brain cancer for which treatment is difficult and, in most cases, unsuccessful,” said Nikolaos.

“Although using our immune system to treat diseases isn’t new, it has been very challenging to accomplish in a clinical setting.

“There are two major obstacles with immunotherapy, getting the drug to the cancer cell and the specific recognition of the cancer by immune cells.”

The major part of the laboratory-based work has been completed and the second phase focusing on the effectiveness of the gel delivery system will begin early 2023, with the analysis of this pre-clinical work done by September 2023.

Nikolaos’s passion for cancer research is driven by his personal experiences.

“My interest in cancer started at a young age when I lost my godfather from pancreatic cancer,’’ he said.

“This was the main reason why I chose to study cancer since I was an undergraduate student in Greece.

“In the final year of my studies, I completed my thesis which was on colorectal cancer.”

Then, after experiencing his aunt’s quality of life deteriorate after being diagnosed with breast cancer, he wanted more involvement with breast cancer research.

Nikolaos is looking forward to seeing results from the gel project and hopes it will contribute to the recovery of cancer patients.

“With hard work and a little luck, I hope to progress this treatment to human trials and eventually see it on the shelves as a new cancer treatment that will improve the quality of life and survival of cancer patients,” he said.

It is hoped the gel will be developed in Adelaide in the next 12-18 months and ABCR looks forward to reporting on its progress.