CMRI Cancer Researcher Receives Highest New South Wales Research Award
Professor Roger Reddel has been named “Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year” at the 5th annual Cancer Institute NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research. The top honour was awarded by Health Minister Mrs Jillian Skinner to Dr Reddel for his research on the ability of cancer cells to keep on proliferating without limits. Professor Reddel, who is the Sir Lorimer Dods Professor and Director of Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI), and head of CMRI's Cancer Research Unit, acknowledged the key contributions of past and present members of his team.
“I am very honoured to receive this prestigious award and I thank everyone who has made this work possible,” said Professor Reddel. “It is very encouraging that the O’Farrell Government places so much importance on medical research and supports it strongly. In addition to the invaluable support of Cancer Institute NSW, my work has been supported continuously by Cancer Council NSW, and by CMRI and its Jeans for Genes fundraising campaign.”
Cancer Council NSW CEO, Dr Andrew Penman AM, congratulated Professor Reddel on his award and highlighted Cancer Council NSW’s ongoing commitment to support the most promising cancer research.
“Professor Reddel has been recognised for his outstanding long term contribution to cancer research. One day his work will make a real difference to a large number of cancer patients and their families. Cancer Council NSW is proud to have supported Professor Reddel and his team since 1988 and together we will work towards the vision of cancer defeated,” said Dr Penman.
Professor Reddel and his team at CMRI are best known for discovering Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres, the mechanism that 10 to 15 per cent of cancers depend on for their continual growth. In addition, the team were the first to discover the molecular composition of the enzyme, telomerase, on which the other 85 per cent of cancers depend.
The unlimited ability of cancer cells to proliferate is referred to as "cellular immortalisation". When Dr Reddel began researching cellular immortalisation, only a handful of researchers internationally thought it had any role in human cancers. Today, cellular immortalisation is widely recognised to be an almost universal characteristic of cancers. It may also be an important target for new anti-cancer treatments that specifically limit cancer cell proliferation.
“Because the overwhelming majority of cancers contain immortalised cells, and normal body tissues do not, if we can develop treatments that target immortalisation we expect that they will be useful for most types of cancers and have fewer side-effects on normal tissues than many of the cancer treatments available at present", Professor Reddel said. "We also expect that detecting tell-tale signs of cellular immortalisation will be helpful as a diagnostic test for early detection of cancer early - when it usually easier to cure."
According to Cancer Institute NSW statistics, cancer is the leading cause of death in NSW people aged 35-84 years. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer in NSW is one in two for men and one in three for women.
The recognition of Professor Reddel’s contribution to cancer research comes just prior to Jeans for Genes, the major national fundraiser of CMRI. All funds raised by Jeans for Genes support the Institute’s scientists to advance the prevention and treatment of disease. For more information on how to support Jeans for Genes Day on Friday 5 August this year visit http://www.jeansforgenes.org.au/ .