Major NH&MRC grant will fund multidisciplinary research to improve the treatment of neuroblastoma

July 27, 2005

Significant funding from the NH&MRC will enable researchers at Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) for Medical Research to make progress on the treatment of one the most aggressive, drug-resistant childhood cancers--neuroblastoma--over the next five years.

With a comprehensive understanding of the biology of neuroblastoma, three senior CCIA researchers and their teams are determined to improve the survival rates for children with this disease through the development of new, safer treatments and possibly even prevent the disease in future.

In mid-July the NH&MRC announced a $4.7 million grant was being awarded to a team comprising Prof Michelle Haber, Head of Experimental Therapeutics and Executive Director of CCIA, A/Prof Murray Norris, Head of Molecular Diagnostics and Deputy Director of CCIA and A/Prof Glenn Marshall, Head of the Molecular Carcinogenesis Program at CCIA and Director of the Centre for Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders at Sydney Children's Hospital to improve the treatment of children with neuroblastoma.

The three principal investigators will be building on the fundamental research they have carried out on neuroblastoma for over a decade. They will be able to expand their research using laboratory models of neuroblastoma which closely reflect the human disease, and which are considered among the best in the world.

Treatment of neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumour in children under five, has not improved much over the last thirty years. It remains an aggressive, debilitating and life-threatening cancer. Mortality is often as high as 60% because most children present with advanced disease that responds poorly to conventional chemotherapy and other forms of treatment. Neuroblastoma has both intrinsic and acquired drug resistance.

"With the additional resources we expect to make great progress in the study of neuroblastoma, a disease that results in about 15% of deaths from childhood cancer," said Prof Haber.

"Five year funding gives us a tremendous opportunity to answer the big questions in child cancer: how does it start and how can we improve treatment?" added co- investigator A/Prof Glenn Marshall, who is also a Paediatric Haematologist and Oncologist, and has been treating children with this disease for almost fifteen years.

The grant will fund a comprehensive research plan that involves tackling the disease systematically on several fronts to:The funding will enable researchers to expand their groundbreaking work on the role of Multidrug Resistance-associated protein-1 (MRP1), the oncogene MYCN and the retinoic acid receptor. Retinoic acid is a Vitamin A derivative and is used in the treatment of neuroblastoma.

Recent work has shown that two types of cellular events lead to the development of neuroblastoma tumour formation. One mechanism involves the activation of the oncogene MYCN while the other involves defective differentiation of neuroblasts (embryonic nervous tissue). Differentiation is the process whereby cells assume a special function or activity.

"Because many types of childhood cancer arise in embryonal tissue, our findings could have great relevance for other cancers including medulloblastoma, Wilm's tumour, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and Ewings' sarcoma." said A/Prof Murray Norris.
For further information or to interview principal investigators please contact Susan Bogle, PR Executive, CCIA on 61-293-820-047 or 61-412-104-805 or email

Research Australia

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to