Newcastle scientist on a quest to cure cancerPHOTOS

29/12/2018 Posted by admin

Newcastle scientist on a quest to cure cancer | PHOTOS Under the Microscope: Dr Nikki Verrills is developing a drug to treat breast cancer. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebookThe story of humanity’s drive to crack the cancer code is filled withdedicated scientists on a mission toend suffering.

Also part of this story are the fundraisers who help pay for thisresearch.

These two sides will come together in Newcastle on Saturday night at the Pink Frangipani Ball.

The ball will raise money for the research of DrNikki Verrills, a scientistwith the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute [HMRI].

Dr Verrills is developing a drugthat aims to help cure breast cancer.

Her research is targeting a protein that is switched off in women with breast cancer. This missing protein enables cancer cellstogrow and divide.

“This proteinseems to be switched off in patients who do particularly poorly with current therapy,”Dr Verrillssaid.

“They’re the ones we want to focus on to find better therapies.”

The drugshe is developing switches this missing protein back on. It hasbeen found to kill breast cancer cells grown in a laboratory.

“It kills tumours in mice in pre-clinical models, which is the final step before we can take a drug into human trials,” she said.

Funds raised at this year’s ballwill go towards testing the new drug in combination with standard treatment, like chemotherapy andradiation.

Dr Verrills said a cure for breast cancer was “ideally what we’re after”.

“We’re trying to cure as many patients as we can,” she said.

Breast cancer, if detected early, is treatable for many women.

Butthe current treatment ofchemotherapy and/or radiation is “pretty awful” for patients to go through.

Nevertheless, the curerate for breast cancer patients is 88 to 90 per cent.

“In Australia, we still lose 3000 women every year to breast cancer becauseit’s such a common disease.”

In the Hunter, about 250women die each year from breast cancer.

Dr Verrills said cancer wasa “horrible disease that takes too many lives”.

She has“huge hopes” forthe emerging area of precision medicine, which is “precisely what we’re doing”.

Pink Frangipani Ball founder AndreaRufo said the six previousballs had raised a combined $500,000 for cancer research and awareness.

Mr Rufo, who lost his wife Sandra to breast cancer, said Dr Verills was doing “amazing work”, whichcould lead to the drug she is developing being used in clinical trials in a few years.

“Where would we be without the researchers in every field who do this kind of work?”he said.

“We’d be lost. They’re brilliant people.

“You’ve got to hold them in such high esteem.”

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