Collaboration unlocks future of stomach cancer research

22 Mar 2023
Collaboration unlocks future of stomach cancer research

Tailored treatment for individual tumors could become a staple of future therapy for stomach cancer, a disease that kills more than 1000 Australians each year.

A joint effort bringing together research, charity and local business is the driving force behind a new study using 3D human tissue cultures, known as ‘organoids’, to test for genetic changes and drug sensitivity in stomach cancer patients.

The project was sparked by $70,000 in seed funding from building developer, Greaton, whose donation was matched by the University of Adelaide and national charity, Tour de Cure for a total of $210,000.

SAHMRI Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh says it’s a great example of what can be achieved through the power of collaboration.

“Generosity like this from a corporate supporter like Greaton is the perfect catalyst for other parties to get on board and transform an idea into a potentially life-changing reality,” Prof Wesselingh said.

“It’s terrific to see this kind of synergy between organisations uniting to make a tremendous impact.”

Led by Associate Professor Susan Woods, a biomedical scientist at SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide, the study will recruit 20 patients with advanced stomach cancer in 2023 and be the first to assess how useful organoid analysis is in guiding future treatment.

“Our ultimate goal is to use precision medicine to match treatment to the unique biology of each tumor,” A/Prof Woods said.

“Most patients present late, by which time most will exhaust already available treatment options in less than a year. These patients are the focus of this study.”

The project has already started recruiting patients from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and will expand out to Flinders Medical Centre and the Royal Adelaide Hospital this month.

The team is optimistic their findings will help to improve outcomes for advanced stomach cancer patients.

“We’re so grateful for the support of Tour de Cure, Greaton and the University of Adelaide,” A/Prof Woods said.

“Their investment has given us this fantastic opportunity to work towards improving the lives of patients living with this terrible disease.”

The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

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