Eureka prize recognizes pioneering research replacing use of animals

August 21, 2007

Scientists who developed a breakthrough research method which reduces the use of animals in the laboratory have been awarded this year's esteemed Voiceless Eureka Prize.

Associate Professor Maria Kavallaris and colleagues at Sydney's Children's Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research (CCIA) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) used advanced molecular biology and cell culture techniques to develop a method for accurately identifying mechanisms of drug resistance in cancer cells without the need for animal models.

Drug resistance in cancer remains a major clinical problem. This pioneering research provides scientists with a renewable and expandable experimental resource for research into the identification of drug resistance mechanisms which may lead to greatly improved cancer treatments.

The importance of this approach is highlighted in its ability to reduce the use of animal models in oncology research, setting a new benchmark for molecular biology applications in the determination of in vivo drug resistance.

Developing and using cancer cell lines in culture, A/Prof Kavallaris and her team dissected protein pathways involved in the response to chemotherapy. This led to the identification of a new protein shown to be involved in drug resistance in leukaemia.

"Conventional research often involves the use of animals to monitor whether certain changes at the cellular level of the disease leads to drug resistance," said A/Prof Kavallaris. "The technique we have developed allows us to directly observe and determine the cause of drug resistance at the cellular level so we can minimise the use of animals to find the answers we are searching for."

Judges of this year's prize applauded the team on their remarkable achievements and pioneering work.

Research Australia

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