7 May 2015
Australian researchers have made significant progress into
cancer research, with results from a study highlighting the
potential benefits that innovative treatments may offer to cancer
The study, led by Associate Professor Brendon Coventry from the
University of Adelaide, showed that local injections into cancer
masses, not only produce size reductions in the injected area, but
can also produce wider unexpected effects in the body.
"Sometimes, this can even lead to size reductions in cancers
elsewhere that have not been injected," A/Prof Coventry said.
A/Prof Coventry said the study brought together reported results
from a number of varied local treatments and he presented his
findings at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' Annual
Scientific Conference in Perth.
"The results of the study are promising and strongly suggest
that many local treatments are often unexpectedly helping the
patient more than just at the local injection site, by producing
longer survival times," he said.
"Far from being just 'local' the effects seem to be engineering
'systemic' body-wide immune responses in the treated patients, by
driving forward and activating an already pre-existing immune
response going on in the cancer patient.
"This occurs in some patients well enough to significantly
prolong survival, but the real challenge is to achieve these
effects in all patients, which should be possible perhaps with
vaccines or other immunotherapies.
"We have identified that the immune system repeatedly switches
'on', and reflexly switches 'off', and that administering doses of
therapy at the correct time during this cyclical process appears
vitally important for creating body-wide immune responses to
improve clinical effectiveness.
"We suspect that this might be what is happening by chance with
these locally injected therapies," A/Prof Coventry said.
Over a thousand surgeons from the Royal Australasian College of
Surgeons as well as international surgeons from the Royal College
of Surgeons of Edinburgh are gathering at the Perth Convention and
Exhibition Centre this week for a series of workshops, discussions,
Plenaries and masterclasses across a broad range of surgical
The RACS 2015 conference will also pay tribute to the centenary
of Gallipoli, by analysing ethics and developments in surgery over
the past 100 years, in war and peace time, as well as exploring
what the future may hold in surgical progress.
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