A Royal Perth Hospital anaesthetist is leading global research to determine whether a commonly used local anaesthetic can play a role in reducing the incidence of chronic pain following breast cancer surgery.
Professor Tomás Corcoran is among 126 high-performing Western Australian researchers sharing in $6.4 million of research infrastructure funding from the Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund (MHIRF).
His study will establish whether Lidocaine, an anaesthetic drug also known as Lignocaine, can reduce the likelihood of patients experiencing ongoing post-operative pain if it is administered intravenously during surgery and up to 24 hours afterwards.
Long-term pain following breast cancer surgery is believed to result from a biological mechanism that is triggered around the time of surgery and that once switched on, cannot be switched off.
While about a third of breast cancer patients have mild post-surgical pain at the site of their wound, around one in eight experience moderate to severe pain that persists beyond four months. For some, it becomes a lifelong burden.
Professor Corcoran was awarded a grant of $4.3 million from the national Medical Research Future Fund in 2020 to run the trial – known as the LOLIPOP trial – in 4,440 patients through the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists clinical trials network.
He expects to begin enrolling patients in Australia in the next few months.
On top of the $6.4 million in MHRIF, six WA eligible medical research institutes will share in $2.8 million under the Research Institute Support (RIS) program.
RIS funding is allocated based on each institute’s researchers’ success in obtaining competitive grant income. It enables them to buy resources essential for supporting quality research.
The six institutes are:
- Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research;
- Institute for Respiratory Health;
- Lions Eye Institute;
- Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science;
- Telethon Kids Institute; and
- Women and Infants Research Foundation.
Both the MHRIF and RIS programs are supported by funding from the FHRI Fund.
The FHRI Fund was established by the McGowan Government in 2020 to provide a secure source of funding for health and medical research and innovation.
As stated by Medical Research Minister Roger Cook:
“The MHRIF program enables outstanding WA researchers to remain competitive in their pursuit of national and international funding.
“Thanks to the support they receive through MHRIF, they are able to run important research projects such as this international multi-centre trial.
“This project will give WA breast cancer patients the chance to participate in world-class research – and potentially be spared from a lifetime of pain and related health issues.”