Professor Philip Hogg wins lead Eureka prize

By Staff Writers
Friday, 20 August, 2010

Professor Philip Hogg, Director of the new Lowy Cancer Research Centre at the University of NSW, has received the prestigious 2010 Industry & Investment NSW Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation.

Professor Hogg is working on a new class of cancer drugs, which target blood vessel formation, starving tumours of the food they need to proliferate. His research is seen as especially important because all solid cancer tumours rely on being able to generate new blood vessels to survive. The ability to successful impede them could therefore provide new hope for treating myriad different cancers.

It is further hoped thought this understanding could be applied to tackling a range of other diseases which feature the abnormal formation of blood vessels, such as macular degeneration and blindness.

Researchers at Cancer Research UK are currently subjecting a first generation molecule which targets cells responsible for producing new blood vessels in tumours is currently undergoing a clinical trial involving 21 adult patients with solid tumours. Preliminary testing has shown that the molecule has inhibited cancer without side effects. It is the first Australian molecule to be tested by the prestigious UK group.

Later this year a trial will start of a second-generation compound which targets both the tumour blood vessels and the tumour cells on patients with advanced solid tumours at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

Professor Hogg and his team are currently working to develop third and forth generation compounds able to be administered in pill form. The University of NSW has formed a new company called Cystemix to manage the commercialisation of this technology.

In developing a better understanding of cell behaviour in cancer, the researchers have also stumbled across what is possibly the first small molecule non-invasive imaging agent for dying and dead cells, a discovery which could lead to the ability to observe the effects of chemotherapy in real time.

Beyond cancer treatment the innovation could have implications for the treatment of other conditions including heart disease. The current value of the cell death imaging agent market is around $1.5 billion globally.

The $10,000 Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation is awarded to an individual or research team conducting outstanding medical research translation and is sponsored by Industry & Investment NSW.

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