Australia-wide living tumour bank

8 October 2015

Dr Sam Asfaha, Dr Simon Leedham and Dr Paul Locchhead at Gastro2015Cancer researchers from around Australia will share resources to create a living tumour bank.

The tumour bank has arisen from discussions between some of the world’s best colorectal cancer researchers who have been in Australia in the past week, sharing their most recent findings in two seminars funded by a Menzies Foundation symposium grant.

2009 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, Dr Dan Worthley, hosted the young researchers in gastrointestinal oncology at the World Congress of Gastroenterology (Gastro 2015) in Brisbane and at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in Adelaide.

In Adelaide over 120 medical professionals including cancer scientists and biologists, gastroenterologists, surgeons, radiographers, mathematicians, epidemiologists, nurses and medical oncologists, came together to hear the latest on bowel cancer research from:

  • Dr Paul Lochhead, Harvard (gastroenterologist who has published multiple papers on colorectal cancer in the New England Journal)
  • Dr Simon Leedham, Oxford (gastroenterologist with first author papers on colorectal cancer in Nature Genetics and Nature Medicine)
  • Dr Sam Asfaha, Assistant Professor University of Western Ontario (gastroenterologist, published on colorectal cancer and stem cells), and
  • Australian experts from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, SAHMRI, the University of Adelaide and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.

Dr Worthley said the SAHMRI, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research would work towards a shared resource where tissues can be kept and frozen and then shared with other researchers nationally and internationally.

“This is a great step because it allows us to use living tissues for things like testing drug therapies,” Dr Worthley said.

“The best thing to come from these kinds of symposia are the break-out sessions where people get together and formulate projects and ideas to work together that wouldn’t otherwise happen.”

The Menzies Foundation sponsored the sessions on colorectal cancer science in Brisbane and the Menzies Foundation Symposium on Colorectal Cancer Science at SAHMRI in Adelaide, where Dr Worthley is the Head of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Biology Group.