I am a research scientist in the Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University. In 2007, we started working on the anti-cancer properties of a drug called dichloroacetate (DCA). This drug can hinder the way cancer cells use their energy, resulting in slower growth of cancers, and enhancing the ability of other anti-cancer drugs to effectively kill cancer cells. This drug had previously been used for other metabolic diseases and came with few toxicities, so it was ready to use in the cancer clinic.
It was difficult to convince other researchers and granting agencies of its potential, but Cancer Council ACT was prepared to take the risk, and in 2010 I received my first grant from Cancer Council ACT “DCA: A Novel Anti-Cancer Agent” to get this project off the ground.
This work progressed well, and 3 years later we started discussions with haematologists at The Canberra Hospital, resulting in the commencement in 2015 of a clinical trial using DCA in multiple myeloma patients. Our latest grant from Cancer Council ACT supports complementary laboratory work looking for novel drug combinations targeting fundamental housekeeping processes in cancer cells for the treatment of leukemia and myeloma, cancers which are in great need of new treatment options.
I wanted to be an explorer, I loved science, and I also wanted to help others.
Medical research on a disease such as cancer was the perfect place for me to combine these interests in a fulfilling way.