Entry for:2018 Queensland Women in STEM Prize
1. Please provide a short summary of your research, project or technology.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting both men and women in Australia. One-third to one-fifth of patients are diagnosed late, with advanced disease termed "metastatic" cancer. This means that the disease has spread throughout the body. Unfortunately, a large proportion of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer have very limited treatment options, suffer terrible symptoms and have only a short time to live.
My project is trialling a new cancer treatment, termed "theranostic therapy". This uses specialised targetting molecules, loaded with chemotherapy or radiation, that can exclusively target and kill cancer cells that have spread throughout the body, while leaving normal tissue untouched. If successful, we will give patients with metastatic colorectal cancer the greatest chance of survival on both a national and international level.
2. Additional Details
The concept of this project was inspired by similar treatment paradigms being employed for other cancers including metastatic prostate cancer - another very common cancer occurring in men.
Although the treatment concept is very early in its development, it has immense potential given its proof of concept for another cancer. My project will perform both a proof of concept and pilot study where applicable for metastatic colorectal cancer.
As part of my project, I am collaborating with many different specialised research centres in Brisbane. This includes the Translation Research Institute, CSIRO, Mater Research Institute, the University of Queensland, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and the Herston Imaging Research Facility. Specialist researchers and clinicians involved with the project includes Assoc/Prof David Clark (Colorectal Surgeon RBWH), Assoc/Prof Andrew Stevenson (Colorectal Surgeon RBWH), Prof John Hooper (Research Fellow Mater Research Institute), Dr Simon Puttick (Research Fellow Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology) and Prof Paul Thomas (Director HIRF).
Below is a theranostic-based pilot study performed by an international research group.
Scarpa L(1), Buxbaum S(1), Kendler D(1), Fink K(1)(2), Bektic J(3), Gruber L(4),
Decristoforo C(1), Uprimny C(1), Lukas P(2), Horninger W(3), Virgolini I(5). The 68Ga/177Lu theragnostic concept in PSMA targeting of castration-resistant
prostate cancer: correlation of SUVmax values and absorbed dose estimates. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2017 May;44(5):788-800. doi:
10.1007/s00259-016-3609-9. Epub 2017 Jan 12.
PMID: 28083690 [Indexed for MEDLINE]
This project sets out to streamline the bench to bedside transition for a novel therapeutic from laboratory experiment to a clinical treatment. Being a clinician, my interest is in proving concept, establishing levels of safety and introducing a successful treatment modality to palliative patients as soon as feasible.
Tahleesa Cuda is a medical doctor specialising in general surgery. She is currently undertaking a PhD through the University of Queensland. Her project is investigating a new treatment paradigm for...