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HomeNewsAward-winning trial involving RNSH cancer patients

Award-winning trial involving RNSH cancer patients

Three overseas scientists using a technique pioneered at RNSH have received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their work in the field of ‘Click Chemistry’.

The science behind the treatment allows the administration of much higher doses of drugs than usual to destroy cancerous tumours in patients without the usual side effects. 

A trial of the treatment, led by biotech company Shasqi, has run at three sites in Australia, including RNSH’s Northern Sydney Cancer Centre (NSCC). 

A/Prof Alex Guminski, Medical Oncologist at RNSH and the University of Sydney’s Northern Clinical School, said it was a potentially “exciting” development for cancer treatment.

“The problem with cancer drugs is that the necessary dose that shrinks cancers is often close to the limit of what a patient can accept safely,” Alex said.

“Click chemistry treatment allows the drug to be ‘active’ in the tumour, rather than the whole body, without the usual ‘toxic’ effects of chemotherapy.

“It’s very exciting science.” 

Three NSCC patients were among participants in the trial of the treatment, which Alex said is hoped will eventually work alongside other cancer treatments such as immunotherapy. 

It’s nice to have contributed to this recognition
A/Prof Alex Guminski

Patients were selected according to strict eligibility criteria, including that their cancers were advanced and not successfully responding to other treatment.  

The patient’s tumour was directly injected with a material on the first day and then the chemotherapy precursor was given via a drip daily for the next five days, providing up to 12 times the dose they could usually safely accept.  

The patients reported less side effects such as nausea compared to usual treatments, while Alex said pre-clinical work suggested the treatment may help break down other tumours in the patient’s body, even when only aimed at a single one.

The scientists - Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless - recently received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, which is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 

“It’s nice to have contributed to this recognition,” Alex said. “More importantly for us, it also shows the importance of trials for providing more pathways where we can potentially improve treatment and bring opportunities to our local patients.”

Alex thanked everyone at RNSH, especially the oncology clinical trials staff and Interventional Radiologist Dr Richard Maher and his team, for supporting the trial. 

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