Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
April 26, 2020

Ovarian and Breast Cancer Research Collaboration Initiative Grant Recipient Announced

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) are proud to announce the recipient of a new joint research grant – Professor Kum Kum Khanna, from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland.

The funded project will investigate a new combination therapy that has shown promise for both triple-negative breast (TNBC) and serous-type ovarian cancer.

The treatment will focus on an important part of the body’s natural recycling system, called proteasomes. These complexes break down unneeded or damaged proteins in the body, but can play an unwanted assistive role in cancer. A class of drugs, called proteasome inhibitors, can act to selectively kill cancer cells, and also prevent their growth and spread in the body.

Previous generations of proteasome inhibiting drugs were not very effective against cancer, as they couldn’t penetrate into solid tumours or get into the brain. Professor Khanna and her team have shown that a new drug, called marizomib, is more effective than the older options, and can reduce the growth and spread of TNBC. The current project will now assess the drug as a treatment for ovarian cancer.

In addition to testing marizomib alone, the researchers will also test it in combination with other FDA-approved drugs. They believe that these combination therapies may lead to a potential treatment for both breast and ovarian cancer.

“Our other goal is to identify genes to help select breast or ovarian cancer patients who will respond best to marizomib-based combination therapy,” said Professor Khanna. With further clinical and scientific study, the identified genes could be used as potential biomarkers to tailor treatment to an individual, an approach known as precision medicine.

Professor Kum Kum Khanna

Research findings from this project have the potential to impact breast and ovarian cancer outcomes. Professor Khanna said, “The successful completion of this research project will revolutionize treatment, extend life, and decrease mortality associated with metastatic breast and ovarian cancer.”

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is Australia’s leading national body funding research into breast cancer. Since 1994, we have invested $181 million into 557 research projects across Australia, with the aim of stopping all deaths from breast cancer. For the first time, we have joined forces with the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, the leading national body for ovarian cancer, to provide this new joint grant scheme. This award will support Professor Khanna in her outstanding translational research, to the benefit of all women with cancer.

“As part of its extended research approach, NBCF has partnered with OCRF to investigate the benefits of mutual learnings between breast cancer and ovarian cancer. This partnership will enable us to identify commonalities between breast and ovarian cancer that will lead to groundbreaking research outcomes and expedite new treatment regimens. This will directly impact Australians affected by breast and ovarian cancer,” said Professor Sarah Hosking, CEO of NBCF.

CEO of OCRF Lucinda Nolan added: “Ovarian cancer treatment hasn’t changed substantially in more than 30 years. Finding new and effective treatments for ovarian cancer is a research priority for the OCRF. We’re incredibly excited by the potential of this project to extend women’s lives through the identification of an inhibitor that could be used to slow the metastasis of ovarian cancer. Our partnership with the NBCF is further demonstration of how creative collaborations can unlock funding for innovative research in women’s health.”