Dr Elaine Sanij

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

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My research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre aims to identify new therapies for ovarian cancer. Nearly seven out of every ten women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are already in an advanced state of disease. We treat them with surgery and chemotherapy but not only do they suffer unfortunate side effects from the drug, sadly, within three years most of these women relapse. More than 1000 of Australian women lose their battle with this insidious disease every single year.

My research is testing a new therapy that we believe will be safer, with fewer side effects, but is more effective against this insidious disease. I’m doing it by attacking cancer cells from the inside out.

We do this by delivering a new drug that attacks the ribosome – this is the protein building factory of the cell. Cancer cells need to make much protein than normal cells and they become addicted to producing more ribosomes. Our drug destroys the genetic information inside those protein factories and shuts them down. We have shown that when we destroy the ribosome in this way, we can kill these addicted cancer cells without affecting the function of the normal cells in the surrounding tissues. That means a safer drug.

We have now started trialling our drug in patients and our team is very excited by the early results. In the years to come I hope we will have some good news for the 250,000 women throughout the world that are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. Currently, my research and career require additional financial support that I hope to acquire through government funding or various philanthropic sources.

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