Right Drug to the Right Person – Personalised Cancer Treatment « Charlie Teo Foundation

Right Drug to the Right Person – Personalised Cancer Treatment

Researcher name: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald
Institution: UNSW Sydney, AUS
Grant Name: More Data Grant
Grant amount (AUD): $151K
Grant Awarded: 2018
Status: Complete

Meet the Researcher

A/Prof Kerrie McDonald was one of the first Australian researchers to work hand-in-hand with clinicians to spear-head precision medicine in brain cancer with her innovative models.

The only one of its kind in Australia, this project fulfilled the promise of personalised medicine. One-size does not fit all, particularly when it comes to brain cancer. This project sought to re-create real-life brain cancer in the laboratory and test different treatments to see which one or ones worked best and then apply it to patient’s treatment regimens.

It is critical to work towards lifting survival rates and reducing debilitating side effects of treatment which can only be done if there is a platform that efficiently screens treatments. This work led to over 300 patient derived cell lines in the most common forms of adult and childhood brain cancer that could be systematically tested in the laboratory before trailing in the patient. The work also led to the establishment of 3 clinical trials which are ongoing.

Personalising the treatment plan for brain cancer patients

Current efforts in brain cancer research are to tailor treatments to the individual’s brain cancer however this can only be successful if there are reliable ways of identifying what is different about an individual’s brain cancer and adapting treatment to that difference.

In order to identify ways to personalise treatment and ensure individuals receive therapies that will benefit them the most and make a significant difference to their chances of beating brain cancer, this project involved developing personalised brain cancer models.

At the time of surgery, samples of brain tumour tissue were collected and transported to the laboratory. The patient tumour tissue was used to initiate and propagate cell lines that can be interrogated for their genetic differences and used as drug-screening tools. This will allow a better understanding of brain tumour biology while determining the right drug for the right patient.