Cancer Council ACT 2019-20 research grant recipient announced

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1 Cancer Council ACT Daffodil Day Dr Jodi Matic and Dr Keisuke Horikawa 9188

Dr Jodi Matic and Dr Keisuke Horikawa

We are proud to announce that the  2019-20  Cancer Council ACT Research Grant recipient, Dr Keisuke Horikawa, will begin his research project in early September (after a slight pause due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions), at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. Dr Horikawa has been granted $65,000 to support his research project Investigating the role of MYB in Burkitt lymphoma.

Burkitt’s Lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that originates in cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. It is a very aggressive form of the disease and accounts for 30% of lymphomas in children and 1% of adult non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

This fast-growing cancer is often treated with high dose chemotherapy, which is very effective against the lymphoma but also very toxic to the rest of the body. Chemotherapy drugs work by circulating through the body affecting all rapidly dividing cells, both cancer cells and healthy cells, leading to many side effects, and the higher the dose usually the more severe the side effects. Unfortunately, this means high dose chemotherapy can be life threatening and therefore unsuitable for elderly patients and patients with a weak immune system.

Dr Horikawa’s work will investigate the role of MYB, a specific feature of Burkitt’s lymphoma cells, which is thought to be involved in the growth and survival of the cancer cells. He hopes that by knowing more about MYB, new treatments can be developed that attack this specific feature, or molecular target. Such treatments are called targeted therapies as they target specific molecular targets (in this case MYB) in or on cancer cells. Blocking their function can kill the cancer cells or slow their growth.

 As targeted therapies work differently and only target the molecular targets on cancer cells there is much less damage to healthy cells and therefore fewer side effects. Dr Horikawa is hopeful his work will lead to the development of less toxic treatments for Burkitt’s lymphoma.

As part of our commitment to improving lives and giving hope to people affected by cancer, Cancer Council ACT raises funds throughout August through the Daffodil Day Appeal to help fund local cancer research. This year is a little different to normal because of COVID-19 and we cannot utilise our many willing volunteers to assist us selling daffodils around Canberra for Daffodil Day, the 28th August.

There are other ways our generous community can support us this year – check the link for details www.daffodilday.com.au/act

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