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Developing a new class of anti-cancer drug

Researcher
Dr Jo K Perry
Country
Research Institute
University of Auckland, New Zealand
Cancer types
General cancer
Dr Jo K Perry

Aim of the research

Dr Perry is studying a potential new therapy for several types of cancer that target the growth hormone signalling pathway and could be particularly effective in patients that also undergo radiotherapy.

More about the research project

Some of the most successful strategies for treating cancer have involved the use of targeted therapies such as monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies work by detecting and blocking specific proteins that help cancers grow and spread. These therapies can be very effective when combined with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Radiotherapy, while an important treatment route for many cancers, doesn’t work for all patients. One approach to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy is to combine it with radiosensitising drugs that make cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation by targeting their crucial growth and survival mechanisms.

Dr Perry and her team are now trying to improve radiotherapy by targeting growth hormone signalling in cancer cells. Abnormal levels of growth hormone can be detected in some breast and endometrial cancers and this is associated with worse patient outcomes. Blocking growth hormone function could make tumour cells more sensitive to radiotherapy. Dr Perry and her team generated several monoclonal antibodies that can stop the growth hormone receptor from working. They are now trying to understand which of these antibodies could be taken into clinical development. If successful, this growth hormone-targeted antibody could benefit a wide range of cancer patients.