Translational Cancer Nanomedicine

Head of Theme: Professor Maria Kavallaris AM

Current therapies are effective at killing cancer cells, however 70% of childhood cancer patients will experience serious and often long-term side effects. This is because, in most cases, toxic drugs that flood the entire body are a treating clinician’s only option. Our aim is to better understand the specific molecular causes of cancer in a child, determine the factors that make them drug resistant, and to target these more effectively.

Children with cancer are currently treated with adult cancer drugs, because that's all that is available.

finding better treatments

Nanomedicine is the application of engineered materials at the nanometre scale (1 nm is 1/1000th width of a human hair) to develop diagnostics and therapeutics. A focus of our research is developing nanoparticles to act as highly efficient delivery vehicles to cancer cells. These nanoparticles can be loaded with drugs or gene silencing technologies and targeted to cancer cells to improve treatment effectiveness and reduce toxicity to normal tissues. Another research focus is the ability to predict the effectiveness and response of therapeutics in patient cancer cells through development of 3-dimensional (3D) models of cancer using cutting-edge technology, models which can be used to increase our understanding of cancer biology and ultimately identify personalised treatment options.