Breast cancer that has metastasized cannot be cured and only 1 in 5 women diagnosed with this advanced stage of the disease expect to survive 5 years despite treatment. Researchers in the Centre are developing new molecular imaging agents that will sensitively detect metastatic breast cancer and most importantly, reveal the biological properties to aid in the selection of the most effective precision cancer medicines in an individual patient. In addition, CPO researchers are developing innovative treatments for metastatic breast cancer that use monoclonal antibodies to selectively target radiation or nanomedicine to tumours to overcome resistance to current treatments. Researchers in the Centre are studying the mechanism by which breast cancer cells escape and spread within the body. Understanding this process is expected to lead to new tools that predict which women are at higher risk for breast cancer metastasis as well as novel therapeutic approaches to block the metastatic process.
Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” since there are few symptoms until this disease has progressed to an advanced stage at which it cannot be cured. In is most advanced form, only 1 in 5 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer expect to survive more than 5 years. Researchers in the CPO are developing novel nanomedicines for treatment of ovarian cancer that deliver chemotherapeutic drugs and DNA repair inhibitors to tumours to make these drugs more powerful for eradicating tumour cells. It is hoped that these new nanomedicines will improve the currently poor outcome of patients with advanced forms of ovarian cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease since it is most often diagnosed at a late stage when tumours have invaded and metastasized. Fewer than 4 in every 100 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for 5 years, and many succumb to this disease in 6-12 months. Researchers in the CPO are developing new molecular imaging agents that sensitively detect pancreatic cancer by positron emission tomography (PET scans). These agents can also be directly extended to treatment of pancreatic cancer when administered at a higher dose (PET theranostics). Many pancreatic cancers rely on binding a growth signalling protein called Wnt. CPO researchers are trying to understand the Wnt growth signalling network in pancreatic cancer with the aim to develop new monoclonal antibody based therapies that block this pathway, arrest tumour growth and improve the outcome of patients with this disease.