Researchers at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) will be able to study cancer tumour cells in greater detail at a state-of-the-art imaging centre thanks to a generous $2m grant by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF).

The ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment was officially opened on 4 October 2019, and will be used to examine how cancer cells are interacting with other cells around them, in their own micro environment. The insights, provided by imaging machines including Multiphoton and Confocal Microscopes and a NanoString Molecular Barcoding Scanner, will assist the development of new treatments, including new forms of immunotherapy and personalised medicine – relatively new approaches to cancer that are improving survival rates.

ONJCRI researchers will achieve this by studying a variety of tumour samples to investigate how tumour and other cells interact, and better understand which drugs impact specific tumour types. The data from these studies will then be used to identify trends and in turn inform the criteria for targeted treatment options and more personalised cancer treatments.

In the future, these research findings could be provided to clinicians to help inform a patient’s personal treatment plan based on the predicted response of a patient’s unique tumour and cell interactions.

ONJCRI Scientific Director, Prof Matthias Ernst, said the opening of the ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment will enable researchers at ONJCRI and the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science for the first time to observe how cancer cells embed and grow between normal cells.

“The new Centre will literally shine a light on what happens in the immediate environment around a tumour, giving us the information we need to develop effective, targeted anti-cancer therapies,” Prof Ernst said.

“We know that tumour cells coerce and corrupt their environment to their advantage. If we understand the interactions and mechanisms they use to do this, we will better understand how to disrupt these processes that fuel the growth of tumours,” he said.

ACRF CEO, Kerry Strydom said; “We are extremely proud to be part of this next chapter for ONJCRI. At ACRF we believe that to find more effective ways to prevent, detect and treat cancers we must seek to understand it better. This initiative is doing just that. We look forward to the impact of findings from the work being done at this new Centre and the difference this will make in the lives of people diagnosed with cancer.”

Find out more about the ACRF Centre for Imaging the Tumour Environment

Find out more about ACRF