19 December 1997

University of Queensland researchers have been awarded $1.13 million for cancer research next year - almost half of the Queensland Cancer Fund's 1998 allocation.

The QCF awarded 24 University research projects the funds out of a total pool of $2.4 million allocated for research by Queensland institutions.

University researchers were awarded 11 new grants worth $623,512, nine ongoing grants worth $498,150 and two Kathleen Cunningham Foundation (KCF) top-up grants worth $10,330 - the highest number of grants awarded to any Queensland institution by the QCF for 1998.

The QCF awarded a total of 22 new grants worth $1.21 million, 23 ongoing grants worth $1.16 million and four Kathleen Cunningham Foundation top-up grants worth $25,525 for 1998.

Other Queensland institutions to receive funds were: the Queensland Institute for Medical Research (five new grants worth $275,262, 10 ongoing grants worth $506,125 and two KCF grants worth $15,195); Royal Brisbane Hospital Research Foundation (one new grant worth $47,902, two ongoing grants worth $90,165); Queensland University of Technology (one new grant worth $50,090); Griffith University (one new grant worth $57,571); Royal Brisbane Hospital (one new grant worth $47,902); Royal Children's Hospital (one new grant worth $54,937); James Cook University (one ongoing grant worth $18,900); Mater Hospital (one ongoing grant worth $49,650).

In announcing the $2.4 million boost to finance the 49 projects, chair of the QCF's medical and scientific committee Professor John McCaffey said the grants covered a broad field of cancer and represented a wide range of research activity.

'Research into genes and genetic activity, seen by many as providing the best hope of an ultimate cure for cancer, continues apace and a number of researchers are working in this field,' he said.

One new grant to the University of Queensland will fund research into and a clinical trial of the drug Captopril, a new form of treatment for cancer of the kidney. Kidney cancer kills nearly 800 Australians (including 165 Queenslanders) each year.

Two new grants, one worth $42,872 and the other, $58,281, have been made to a research team based at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).

The researchers are Associate Professor David Nicol and Dr Julie Jonsson from the University's Surgery Department, University Medicine Department's Dr Anthony Johnson, Dr Euan Walpole from the Oncology Department at PAH and Dr Mark Harvey from QUT.

Previous laboratory research has shown that Captopril, normally used to treat high blood pressure, inhibits the growth of cancer of the kidney. Dr Jonsson, a senior research officer in the Department, discovered Captopril had an impact on the development of blood vessels during her PhD research at the University.

Earlier this year, PhD student Su-Ing Hii compared the results of Captopril on adult mice with tumours. After six weeks of treatment, she found a significant dose-related reduction in tumour development compared to mice that did not receive the drug.

The QCF grant will enable the drug to be used in a trial with patients who have an advanced stage of the disease.

Another new grant worth $73,684 has been made to researchers from the University's Psychiatry Department investigating coping mechanisms of patients terminally ill from cancer and ways palliative care services may assist in decreasing the wish of some to hasten death.

The researchers are Dr Brian Kelly and Associate Professor Frank Varghese from the Psychiatry Department, Dr Marguerite Robertson from Mount Olivet Hospital and Dr Paul Burnett from QUT.

For further information, contact Director, Research Services, Jan Massey on telephone 3365 3640.