SBMS public lecture highlights Australian world-first cancer treatment breakthrough

16 May 2016

Cancer is the number one cause of death in Australia and current research breakthroughs to combat the disease will be highlighted in a University of Queensland public lecture.

Leading international cancer expert Professor Ross Hannan from the Australian National University will deliver the lecture Cancer Wars: the force is strong with this one on Friday 20 May.

Professor Hannan and his research group developed the world’s first selective inhibitors of Pol I transcription, a new class of therapeutic drugs, which are currently being tested in Phase1 clinical trials for the treatment of haematological malignancies (blood cancers).

Professor Hannan said researchers faced a number of difficulties in the war against cancer.

“One difficulty we have is that cancer isn’t just one disease, it’s about 200 different types of diseases,” he said.

“Patients also become resistant to therapies and although this difficulty can be tackled with personalised medicine, there is an enormous cost involved.

“The estimated cost to develop one drug is $1 billion, more than the total spend on health research in Australia in one year.”

Professor Hannan said world-first Australian research offered some hope in solving these difficulties.

“I’ll be talking about my current research where we’ve taken fundamental studies in the laboratory right through to Phase 1 clinical trials,” he said.

“This demonstrates that drug development can be carried out on a small scale, at about a tenth of the costs incurred by big drug companies.

“The current Phase 1 clinical trials at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, indicate that this area has great future potential for cancer patients in Australia.”   

The public lecture is being hosted by UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences as part of their annual prize giving awards evening.

Acting Head of School Professor Ross Minchin said he was delighted that Professor Hannan had agreed to deliver this year’s lecture.

“Professor Hannan is a highly respected researcher in his field whose ground breaking work is recognised internationally,” he said.

“His lecture will be of great interest not only to School and UQ staff and students but also to members of the public who are welcome to attend.”

Professor Ross Hannan is the Centenary Chair of Cancer Research and Head of Department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University.

Lecture:              Cancer Wars: the force is strong with this one
Time:                  5pm-6pm (refreshments from 6.45pm)
Date:                  Friday 20 May
Venue:                Physiology Lecture Theatres, St Lucia Campus
RSVP:                 Avril Johnston-Craig,

MEDIA Lynda Flower, SBMS Communications, 3346 9865,