A new therapeutic opportunity for gastrointestinal cancers

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Associate Professor Michael Griffin

University of Melbourne


2022 - 2024

The Research

Colorectal (or bowel) and pancreatic cancer are the second and third leading causes of death from cancer in Australia, after lung cancer. Patients with advanced bowel and pancreatic cancers are often treated with drugs that inhibit the activity of a protein (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor, or EGFR) that allows cancer cells to communicate with each other, helping them to multiply and spread. This treatment is effective at shrinking tumours and halting cancer spread, but its effectiveness doesn’t last. For many patients, the treatment will eventually begin to fail, and the cancer will begin growing and spreading once again.

A/Prof Griffin and his team have been studying another protein receptor (called cytokine interleukin, or IL11) that they believe works with EGFR to help cancer cells communicate with each other. In this project, the team will test if these antibodies can extend the effectiveness of treatment with EGFR inhibitors for pancreatic and bowel cancers.


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