Following an in-depth review of 12 high-quality funding applications, our world class Scientific Advisory Board strongly recommended we fund two research projects in 2023 that demonstrated exceptional research quality and the potential to make a difference to treatments. 

Professor Maria Kavallaris from the Children’s Cancer Institute will study the potential for tailored treatment programmes through the use of nanoparticles to target cancer cells.  

Improving treatment outcomes using nanoparticle therapy 

Neuroblastoma patients with recurrent and drug resistant tumours, also referred to as high-risk disease, have limited therapeutic options. Moreover, many of the therapies given to treat patients with high-risk disease are toxic and for survivors, often lead to life-long health issues. There is an urgent unmet need to develop new treatments that can selectively target neuroblastoma cells and spare healthy cells. 

Professor Kavallaris’ team have been at the forefront of developing nanoparticles to deliver therapeutics to cancer cells including neuroblastoma. Lipid-based nanoparticles loaded with gene silencing drugs are clinically approved to treat rare genetic liver diseases.  

However, these nanoparticles do not have the capability to selectively target tumour cells which can lead to poor tumour penetration and off-target side-effects.  

In an important advance, Professor Kavallaris and her team have developed a new way to target lipid-based nanoparticles loaded with gene silencing drugs that can ‘silence’ cancer-promoting genes in the tumour cells and block their growth.  

The team’s approach will use antibodies attached to the surface of lipid nanoparticles that bind to proteins expressed on the surface of neuroblastoma cells. This will facilitate entry of the gene silencing nanotherapy into the tumour cells, avoiding healthy cells. These studies have enormous potential for personalised treatment of neuroblastoma to increase patient survival.   

Achieving our Mission  

Professor Kavallaris’ project is in line with Neuroblastoma Australia’s mission to develop better, less toxic and effective treatments for children with neuroblastoma. Professor Kavallaris is determined to help find a way to reduce the toxicity of current treatment programmes.  

I am thrilled to have the neuroblastoma work supported by Neuroblastoma Australia. This will help us accelerate our work to develop a new immune-targeted and gene-silencing therapy which has the potential for significant clinical translation. Professor Maria KavallarisHear Professor Kavallaris talk about her work and why funding from Neuroblastoma Australia is so important: 


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You can help fund groundbreaking research projects to find new, better treatments for children diagnosed neuroblastoma. Please donate today. If you want to help us support research, regular giving provides constant support, even $10 a month makes a difference. 

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