Cure Brain Cancer supports brain cancer immunotherapy trials

Cure Brain Cancer supports brain cancer immunotherapy trials

22 November 2017
Our research into new treatments for brain cancer has been boosted by fellowship funding from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Dr Ryan Cross in the lab
A Cure Brain Cancer Foundation fellowship will support
Dr Ryan Cross to undertake research into new 'immunotherapy'
treatments for brain cancer in adults and children.

A three-year fellowship will support Dr Ryan Cross to translate his research into harnessing immune cells to fight brain cancer, a field known as ‘cancer immunotherapy’. 

At a glance

  • New treatments are urgently needed for adult and childhood brain cancer, both of which currently have very poor outcomes.
  • Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is supporting Dr Ryan Cross to create cancer-fighting immune cells from a brain cancer patient’s own blood. These will be tested in clinical trials that return the cells to the patient.
  • Dr Cross’ research will be conducted in collaboration with research and clinical partners within the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Brain cancer: a deadly disease

More than 1600 new cases of brain cancer are diagnosed in Australia each year. Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in adults under 40. Cancer can originate in many different cell types in the brain, giving rise to various forms of brain cancer. 

Dr Cross said brain cancer also caused more deaths in Australian children than any other disease. "In the past 30 years patient survival hasn’t improved for either adults or children with aggressive brain cancer, despite dramatic improvements in treatments for many other cancers,” Dr Cross said.

Improving brain cancer treatments

Dr Ryan Cross has received a Cure Brain Cancer Foundation Early Career Fellowship of $345,000 over three years to fund his research.

Dr Cross, who works with Institute laboratory head Dr Misty Jenkins, said his research focused on two of the deadliest types of brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – the most aggressive form of brain cancer in children – and adult glioblastoma.

“This work will use patient samples to discover how best to program cancer-fighting immune T cells in the lab to kill brain cancer. This fellowship will enable me to test and refine this approach, developing a ‘pipeline’ that could allow personalised treatments for children and adults with brain cancer,” Dr Cross said. 

“An exciting aspect of this work is that everything we do is aiming to initiate clinical trials, which will test whether the cancer-fighting immune T cells we generate are an effective treatment for brain cancer when given to patients.

Collaborative research

Dr Cross said his research was made possible by partnerships with industry, as well as with other scientific and clinical organisations within the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. 

“This work was initiated using seed funding that I received from The Jack Brockhoff Foundation, and now Cure Brain Cancer Foundation have provided me with vital support to continue my research to try and help children with brain cancer.

“I would also like to acknowledge the valuable input we have had from Dr Robert de Rose, a research consumer with personal experience of caring for someone with brain cancer,” Dr Cross said.

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