Drug development to combat hypoxic breast tumours

Start Year: 2011
Finish Year: 2013
Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Bernard Flynn
Grant Type: Novel Concept Awards
Institution: Monash University

Breast cancers frequently outgrow their blood supply and adapt to survive in the resulting low oxygen environment. Lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia, is a key contributor to cancer malignancy, treatment failure and resistance. Hypoxic tumours become more aggressive, mobilising cells towards the blood supply and into circulation, leading to invasion of distant tissues (metastasis). Low oxygen conditions also reduce the effectiveness of many anti-cancer drugs, which no longer reach their target due to impaired blood supply and have reduced efficacy due to local conditions.

Using knowledge of tumour hypoxia and a new approach to cancer drug discovery, this group aims to design a drug that is capable of accessing the remote regions of tumours where the blood supply is poor and where hypoxic cells develop. Unlike other cancer drugs, this agent will be able kill both normal cancer cells and hypoxic cancer cells whilst not affecting normal healthy tissue. These findings will address some of the major reasons for therapy failure in breast cancer, leading to safer and more effective therapies for the future.