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New and Improved treatments

Using Radioactivity to “Seek and Destroy” Cancer Cells in mice

University of Melbourne Dr

Mohammad Haskali

Project Description: The spread of cancerous cells, otherwise known as metastasis, is the most significant contributor to mortality in breast cancer. Using experimental models this project aims to develop and test a novel and rapidly evolving form of personalised medicine known as Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT). PRRT uses a drug with dual action, which detects and homes to the location of cancer cells while at the same time destroying them. 

Why This Work is Needed: Patients with metastatic breast cancer have very poor outcomes with a 5-year survival rate of those with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer currently at only 32%. Treatments that could lead to an increase in survival, reduced side-effects and a reduction in the number of test and treatments that a patients must undergo are urgently required. 

Expected Outcomes: This project will test the world’s first dual diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, using radioactive therapy. This novel dual action drug will significantly impact the diagnosis and the ability to monitor the response to therapy, enabling personalised management of patients with metastatic disease. 

Project Details

When treating breast cancer, you need to first find the cancerous cells and then destroy them. Now, for the first time, the two steps can be done simultaneously using radioactive drugs, in a process known as Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT). 

Both primary and metastatic breast cancer cells have abnormal levels of a protein called Y1R on their surface. This protein can be targeted with a drug that is linked to two radioactive chemicals. This allows imaging and location of the tumour using PET scanning and at the same time deliver therapeutic radioactivity to directly destroy the cancer, with minimal impact to healthy normal cells. 

This project, led by Dr Mohammad Haskali from the University of Melbourne, will investigate two new radioactive drugs that his team have developed against Y1R . These drugs are both very potent, and have shown great promise in serving as first-in-class molecules to treat metastatic breast cancer 

PRRT has previously been used in other forms of cancer, but has not yet been tested in breast cancer. It is hoped that this project will demonstrate efficacy, and may lead to first in human clinical evaluation.  

University of Melbourne Dr

Mohammad Haskali