Curtin Tool Receives Funding to Predict Chemo Success

Curtin University research to develop an early diagnosis tool predicting how cancer patients will respond to chemotherapy has received a funding boost of almost half a million dollars through the Innovation Seed Fund 2023-24.

Led by Dr Yu Yu from Curtin Medical School and the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, the project seeks to create a diagnostic test to identify patients who will benefit from platinum-based chemotherapy, which is commonly used in combatting advanced cancers, but often has poor outcomes.

Dr Yu said ineffective therapy affects up to 1,500 people in WA yearly and more than two million globally.

"Unfortunately, up to half of all patients do not respond to platinum-based chemotherapy and the goal of this project is to provide clinicians with a tool that accurately predicts responses using biopsies at the onset of treatment," Dr Yu said.

"This diagnostic test, known as ChemoDx, will enhance clinical decision-making, reduce unnecessary adverse effects and potentially improve survival rates by paving the way for tailored first-line treatments."

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Melinda Fitzgerald congratulated Dr Yu and her team on the successful funding outcome.

"This important research addresses a critical gap in cancer care and has the potential to transform cancer treatment making a real difference to people's lives," Professor Fitzgerald said.

"Support from the Innovation Seed Fund reinforces Curtin's ongoing commitment to pioneering research that addresses critical health issues and allows our best minds to excel in their field."

The project, titled "Early Detection of Platinum-Chemotherapy Drug Response in Solid Tumour Biopsies", focuses initially on ovarian cancer, one of the deadliest cancers with a high incidence of drug resistance and late-stage diagnosis.

"Drug resistance is a significant barrier to successful cancer treatment and the inability to predict platinum resistance exposes patients to chemotherapy side effects without therapeutic benefit and weakens the immune system," Dr Yu said.

"We have identified biomarkers that predict the response of ovarian cancer to chemotherapy and the expected outcome is the development of a diagnostic tool that will improve cancer patient treatment worldwide."

The Innovation Seed Fund, funded through the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, supports Western Australian innovators and early-stage start-up companies to develop and commercialise cutting-edge health and medical innovations.

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