We have seen major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, but many questions remain. Why do some treatments work on some people and not others? Why are the survival rates of some cancers still so low? And how can we prevent the estimated 22 million cancer cases that will be diagnosed annually worldwide within the next 20 years?
UniSA researchers and postgraduate students are working on many fronts to find the answers.
Our research ability to combine wide-ranging expertise across many disciplines helps us deliver innovative breakthroughs using a combination of new science, new techniques and new technologies.
With over 250 researchers working within our key research centres including the Centre for Cancer Biology and the Sansom Institute, we host the largest cohort of cancer researchers in South Australia.
Much of this work informs at the international and national level, leading to fundamental understanding of cancer development and breakthroughs in treatments for hard to treat cancers. It also delivers improved diagnostic and personalised therapeutic approaches directly to patients.
Your support of UniSA cancer research enables local researchers to make a global impact - one that will also directly help you and your family.
Our researchers believe the study of genes and their function can help discover why some individuals get cancer and some don't, and why some respond to treatment and others don't.
It is hoped their research in genome sequencing – a complete analysis of the 20,000 coding-genes which make up our personal genetic blueprint – will lead to more personalised medicine developments where a cancer is targeted with treatments based on its genetic makeup rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Researchers in the Centre for Cancer Biology are specialists in the field of personalised medicine and are already assisting the treatment of many South Australians with a targeted personalised medicine approach.
Researchers in the Centre for Cancer Biology are uncovering ways to prevent the metastasis of cancer cells.Read more about cell signalling research
UniSA is a leader in nanotechnology (engineering at the atomic or molecular level).
Its medical application nanomedicine is emerging as one of the key technologies of the 21st century that enables revolutionary development in cancer treatments.
Professor Clive Prestidge and his team are creating nano-structured drug delivery systems which will have numerous applications including improved and targeted drug delivery for cancer treatments.
Likewise,“lab-on-chip” devices developed by Professor Benjamin Thierry's team are designed to isolate rare cancer cells in a non-invasive manner from patient's blood. These devices are so specific they can detect cancer cells present at ratios as low as 10 cancer cells per billion blood cells.
These devices promise a real breakthrough in cancer diagnostic and prognostic techniques, and are currently being tested in an ongoing clinical study at three major hospitals in the Adelaide metropolitan area.
UniSA is home to psychosocial oncology practitioners and cancer researchers who explore ways to improve the quality of life people affected by cancer – from treatment to remission and beyond.
World-renowned oncologist Professor Ian Olver leads a team of researchers seeking to form a better understanding of the complex physical, social, emotional, practical and spiritual needs of people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Part of this work has helped reduce the quality of life gap between rural and urban cancer survivors, finding the right intervention tools to improve overall wellbeing. >Read more
Professor Cory Xian and his team are investigating ways to reduce a painful side-effect of chemotherapy. They have identified several key components that contribute to bone and marrow damage that can result from treatment. They are focusing on natural substances including genistein from soy that could help limit or block this damage which can lead to pain and osteoporosis.
>Learn more: Professor Allison Cowin and her team are developing a revolutionary new treatment for skin cancer.
Our researchers seek ways to innovate cancer treatments and diagnostics to fast-track the development of improved therapeutic tools.
Professor Doug Brooks and his team are working to find better alternatives to the current PSA prostate cancer diagnostic test. They have made a significant discovery that has the potential to find highly aggressive prostate cancers faster and reduce unnecessary invasive treatments.>Read more
Our Future Industries Institute researchers are also in the final stages of developing new diagnostic technologies. Dr Melanie MacGregor and Professor Krasi Vasilev are developing a non-invasive diagnostic tool to identify cancer cells in urine samples for the ongoing monitoring of urothelial cancers (of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder). Dr Aidan Cousins and Professor Benjamin Thierry are in the final stages of the development of the Ferronova Probe, a device that cancer surgeons can use to pin-point the location of potential cancer spread within millimetre accuracy.
At UniSA our researchers are globally recognised for their work at the cellular and molecular level to discover the changes within the body that cause cancer and develop new cancer treatments.
Many of our researchers are recognised internationally for their contributions to the understanding of the cellular and molecular underpinnings of cancer. Professor Stuart Pitson from the Centre for Cancer Biology and his team are at the forefront of discovery on the role of sphingosine kinase (SK) enzymes in cancer and are close to creating an improved treatment for glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer with few treatment options. >Read more
The research team at the Centre for Cancer Biology led by Associate Professor Michael Samuel is investigating how tumours modify their microenvironments to help them grow and spread. This research has led to the identification of a mechanism controlling the stiffness of tissue surrounding tumours which facilitates cancer spread and could lead to innovative therapies to halt metastasis.
>Learn more about Assoc Prof Michael Samuel's important cancer progression research