Researcher in bid to blow rogue cancer’s cover

A Western Australian cancer researcher is on a mission to blow the cover of a highly aggressive and difficult-to-detect form of breast cancer and believes a mysterious protein could hold the key to the breakthrough.

Fiona Stanley Hospital oncologist Dr Indunil Weerasena’s research follows important new findings, made by other local researchers, about the mysterious protein called AAMDC.

Research has shown that AAMDC not only hastened cancer cell proliferation but also made them resistant to the hormone and chemotherapies that were commonly used to fight ER positive breast cancers. High levels of AAMDC happen to be found in a subtype of cancer known as IC2. This subtype is known to have high rates of recurrence as well as resistance to contemporary chemotherapy regimes.

Dr Weerasena’s project, with the aid of a McGowan Government-funded Cancer Research Fellowship, aims to determine whether the rogue ER positive cancer is an IC2 subtype.

His findings could pave the way for the earlier identification of these cancers and more effective treatments, potentially with older chemotherapy regimes. Parallels between breast and ovarian cancer mean Dr Weerasena’s research may also have further benefits for the treatment of some ovarian cancer patients.

Dr Weerasena is one of seven researchers awarded a Cancer Research Fellowship in the WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network program.

More than $1.2 million will be distributed this year in the program that was established in 2014 to enable medical practitioners working in the WA Health system to expand their cancer expertise and research skills.

Read the full media statement


Full list of recipients

 Recipient   Project   Hospital
Eliska Furlong Evaluation of an enhanced influenza vaccination schedule in immunocompromised children undergoing treatment for cancer by assessment of cellular and humoral immune response Perth Children’s Hospital
Timothy Humphries Integrating Tumour Mutational Burden testing for appropriate selection of immune-oncology therapy in metastatic melanoma Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Andy Hutchison Implementation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy in Western Australia Fiona Stanley Hospital
Azim Khan Defeating Breast Cancer Disadvantage in the Indigenous population Fiona Stanley Hospital
Annalise Martin Precision Medicine, identification of novel drug targets for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in Western Australia through analysis Royal Perth Hospital
Indunil Weerasena Integrated Cluster 2 Breast Cancers: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing Fiona Stanley Hospital
Courtney Wood Paediatric Palliative Care Fellowship Perth Children’s Hospital