Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. While smoking accounts for 85-90% of lung cancers, other causes include passive smoking, asbestos, cooking fumes and other carcinogens. There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) - accounting for the majority of lung cancers (around 80% of cases). It is often diagnosed at advanced stages, with poor prognosis and often with metastasis to multiple organs. 
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)- accounting for around 15% of lung cancers, SCLC usually spread more quickly than NSCLC.

Although survival rates have improved, they still remain low at ~11-15% over 5 years, and prognosis remains poor (AIHW, 2011).

Lung cancer research projects underway at TRI

Liquid biopsy to measure response to immunotherapy in patients with NSCLC 

In a subset of NSCLC patients, immunotherapies have been shown to achieve significant and long lasting benefits compared to conventional therapies. However, these treatments are not suitable for all patients, and are costly, so it is important to identify which patients would benefit most - before starting, and over the course of treatment. The traditional approach using lung tumour biopsy is invasive, associated with many risks, and is often not possible due to tumour location. Supported by a 2018 TRI Spore Grant, Dr Arutha Kulasinghe from QUT IHBI is currenty working on a project to validating a non-invasive, liquid biopsy solution to monitor response to immunotherapy using patient blood samples. The blood samples, containing circulating tumour cells and tumour DNA, will be analysed to monitor for key genetic mutations during the course of treatment.

Genomics and Lung Cancer

  • Can genomic sequencing assist with lung cancer care? Researchers at QUT IHBI's Australian Translational Genomics Centre, based at the TRI, are undertaking research into the benefits of modern genomics in management of lung cancer in Queensland. Read more
  • The International Cancer Genome Consortium and the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) is undertaking research in collaboration with UQ School of Medicine to identify other relevant driver mutations by interrogation of certain genomes for non-smoking lung cancers. Professor Ken O’Byrne and Associate Professor Derek Richards have a joint interest in genome stability pathways in lung cancer. Professor O’Byrne has facilitated the development of a comprehensive program of research that has the potential to develop novel approaches in the management of lung cancer and mesothelioma as well as other solid tumours. His team has had clinical success with their discoveries being translated to over 100 clinical trials.

Key Researchers
Matthew Arthur Brown
Arutha Kulasinghe
Derek Richard
Ken O'Byrne
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