Oral cancer targeted in research grant

Dec. 20, 2012
The Australian Dental Research Foundation has recently awarded a research grant, funded by the Australian Dental Industry Association, to an associate professor at the University of Sydney to study the relationship of malignant cancer cells and those of healthy gingival structural tissue (fibroblasts).

With the support of the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA), the Australian Dental Research Foundation (ADRF) has awarded the 2012 ADIA Research Grant to Associate Professor Hans Zoellner from the University of Sydney. The grant supports research into the relationship of malignant cancer cells and those of healthy gingival structural tissue (fibroblasts). The findings of this research originated from earlier work studying aspects of oral cancer and have shed light on other forms of cancer.


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The grant, funded by ADIA, is awarded each year to the primary applicant for the highest-ranked research project of those considered by the ADRF. Professor Zoellner’s project, Characterisation of protein and mRNA exchange between malignant cells and fibroblasts, was considered by the ADRF Grant Committee to be ground-breaking research into how cancer cells behave and potentially evade treatment.

“We have recently observed that cancer cells exchange cellular material with fibroblasts, and the resulting cancer cell diversity may help cancer cells evade chemotherapy. Separately, from an immune standpoint, it seems likely that the cancer cells receive enough components of fibroblasts so that they are less recognized as foreign, while the fibroblasts now bearing cancer cell components would act as immune decoys,” explained Professor Zoellner.

“In understanding this process, we hope to eventually inhibit the mechanisms through which it occurs and therefore increase the effectiveness of treatments,” added Professor Zoellner. The ADIA chief executive officer, Troy Williams, said ADIA is proud to be funding the grant and is honored to be associated with such important work. It is congruous with ADIA’s mission to support product development within Australia, and through that the growth of the Australian dental industry.

“This type of research is important as it leads to new products and pharmaceuticals used in dentistry. ADIA is pleased to support researchers such as Professor Zoellner as we are keen to foster the development of new products in Australia, and this grant is one small step in securing that outcome,” Mr. Williams said.

The Australian Dental Research Foundation is jointly supported by ADIA and the Australian Dental Association (ADA) for the purpose of sponsoring dental research toward improving the dental health of the people of Australia.