agitg innovation fund

2015 AGITG Innovation Fund – update on results achieved

In 2015, the inaugural AGITG Innovation Fund was awarded to Prof John Mariadason, Dr David Lau and Associate Professor Niall Tebbutt to conduct a project titled: ‘Fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family amplification and overexpression as biomarkers of Regorafenib response in gastric cancer’.

This was made possible due to the generosity of our many donors who have undertaken a Gutsy Challenge by running, cycling, swimming, climbing, cutting hair or eating healthy and members of our community who have organised events or made a donation.  Outcomes are now being generated from these important grants for studies to generate data and information to improve the treatment of gastro-intestinal cancer.

The 2015 Innovation Fund grant enabled the research team to develop sufficient evidence to reference in a successful grant submission to the NHMRC for a three year project, titled The FGFR family as drivers and biomarkers of regorafenib response in gastric cancer.

The research team looked at advanced stage gastric cancer and response to the drug Regorafenib, a drug currently used in the treatment of colorectal cancer.

The research had three aims:

Aim 1: Confirm the exquisite sensitivity of FGFR-driven gastric cancer cell lines to Regorafenib in xenograft models in vivo.

Aim 2: Establish methods for assessing the amplification and expression status of FGFR family members in gastric cancer specimens

Aim 3: Investigation of the mechanism of action of regorafenib.

Summary of findings:

Advanced stomach cancer is a lethal disease necessitating the urgent need to develop new treatments.

The recently completed INTEGRATE clinical trial suggests that the drug regorafenib (Stivarga™) may be a new treatment option for patients with gastric cancer. Unfortunately, not all patients benefited from treatment with this drug. We conducted a study to identify which types of gastric cancer respond to regorafenib.

We have generated some evidence which suggests that gastric cancers which express high levels of a protein called FGFR are more responsive to regorafenib. Further clinical testing in larger patient groups is now needed to confirm this finding. The phase III Integrate II clinical trial which is currently recruiting patients will be an ideal opportunity to definitively answer this question.

“Receiving this support from the Innovation Fund has allowed us to generate some evidence to suggest that FGFR-driven gastric cancers may respond better to regorafenib, but we need to confirm this in more patients” said Professor John Mariadason. “It is important to continue to improve the outcomes for people with stomach cancer and we can only do this by continually gathering more information about treatment alternatives.”

Pictured above L-R: Professor John Mariadason, Dr David Lau, and A/Professor Niall Tebbutt

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