The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

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New support for our fight against lung cancer

New support for our fight against lung cancer

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

We've had some good news, with two significant grants awarded to researchers at the Woolcock Centre for Lung Cancer Research.

The grants will help us advance our cutting-edge research to investigate the relationships between the microbiome and lung cancer.

Professor Maija Kohonen-Corish, Director of the Centre, has received $100,000 from the Perpetual IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program for her work on how to exploit the microbiome to combat lung cancer.

And Dr Anna McLean was awarded the Lung Foundation Australia's 2021 Carolyn Riordan Research Grant for her research on the lung microbiome as a biomarker of therapeutic response in lung cancer.

"This is truly a team effort. The study is supported by many enthusiastic clinical collaborators across Sydney as well as our own home troops, PhD student Hannah Parker and postdoc Dr Zeenat Jahan", says Professor Corish. "These grants will take us another step along the path of improving the life expectancy of patients with lung cancer."

About our microbiome research

Our research on the role of the microbiome in lung cancer is cutting-edge, and unique in Australia. 

Recent research has revealed a surprising reason why some cancer therapies may not work: an imbalance in a patient's microbiome prevents the drugs from killing tumours.

For example, the use of antibiotics just before the start of a person's cancer treatment can wipe out the beneficial microbes needed for the treatment to be successful.

Other medications, poor diet and alcohol can also cause microbiome imbalance.

The good news is that therapy resistance may be reversed through dietary interventions that restore a person's microbiome health. What's more, it appears that beneficial microbes can actually work to support the effectiveness of cancer drugs. 

Our research will lead to the introduction of microbiome protocols into routine patient care, and will help thousands of lung cancer patients who receive cancer therapy each year.

Lung cancer – a stigmatised killer

Breakthrough innovations are urgently needed for lung cancer, which kills almost 9,000 Australians every year: more than breast, ovarian and prostate cancer combined.

Despite these alarming statistics, lung cancer carries the stigma of being associated with smoking, even though non-smokers can get lung cancer too. Studies have shown, for example, that 1 in 3 women with lung cancer have no history of smoking.

Our multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians is dedicated to understanding how lung cancer develops and how to treat it more effectively. We are working towards finding new non-invasive tests and interventions that make lung cancer treatment more successful for thousands of patients every year, to extend survival and improve quality of life.

Find out more about the Centre for Lung Cancer Research.

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