The Future of GI Cancer Research

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we acknowledge that there is still work to be done to achieve our goal of a world free from gastro-intestinal cancer, but our Chair, Doctor Lorraine Chantrill, is hopeful.

“I hope that we will continue to give patients in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally the opportunity to participate in studies that offer novel and innovative treatments and hope for a better outcome,” she says.

We have more innovative new trials open and in development than ever before. These include the DYNAMIC trials, three clinical trials investigating whether ‘liquid biopsy’ blood tests could be used to detect the presence of cancer in the bloodstream. These trials could lead to a revolution in the way we screen for cancer, and monitor patients during and after treatment. We have also increased our translational research which takes the data from clinical trials back to the lab and builds on them to invent new treatments for the future.

The innovative NEO-IMPACT pancreatic cancer study in 2022, which is testing something never studied before. Led by Dr Chantrill, NEO-IMPACT is the GI Cancer Institute’s first trial to be funded entirely through the community and philanthropy, thanks to the amazing support of people like you.

“This trial will bring immunotherapy to the very beginning of treatment, to activate the immune system before any cancer cells are released from the pancreas gland into the blood stream. We think this has the potential to reduce the risk of recurrence, by influencing the person’s gut bacteria,” says Dr Chantrill.

More funding for research than ever before

Thanks to the incredible support of our community during 2020, we were able to award over $565,000 to three new research projects for colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine tumours through the community-funded Innovation Grant. This Grant is a unique opportunity for original scientific ideas with the potential to change clinical practice to receive funding.  It is the first time we have been able to support so many varied research projects at once. If these studies have positive results, they can lead to larger trials which could change medical practice in the future.

We are thrilled the Gutsy Challenge is back and bigger than ever in 2021, and we can’t wait to see the new research that these inspiring community fundraisers help make a reality next year and into the future.

From a spark of inspiration to a treatment improving lives

In 2019, we launched our first Idea Generation Workshop, a unique opportunity for researchers to present their ideas for GI cancer clinical trials at the earliest stages to experts in the field. The Workshop was so successful that it was held again in 2020 and is now a part of our yearly strategic activities to develop new research. In 2021, we will hold three Idea Generation Workshops to develop new research for three GI cancers that desperately need more attention: cholangiocarcinoma (biliary tract cancer), hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), and rectal cancer.

To elevate this research and kick-start the incredible ideas we receive, thanks to you, this year we are also offering a grant of $100,000 to the idea that has the most potential to change the lives of GI cancer patients. This will enable faster research, delivering new treatments and better outcomes to patients in the near future.

This is a testament to the fact that at the GI Cancer Institute we are developing more new research than ever and raising more funds than ever before.

“As part of my medical practice, every day, I see families affected by GI cancer,” says Dr Chantrill. “Our clinical trials help find a better way to treat patients and to honour a promise I have made to those I have treated to do whatever I can to improve their life expectancy.”

Improving survival for the 28,600 Australians diagnosed with a GI cancer

Our past trials have contributed to the increased survival rates for GI cancer, and we are eager to see the results our new trials have on the lives of patients and their families.

This progress would not be possible without the dedicated patients who take part in our clinical trials, the expert researchers who volunteer their time to advance GI cancer research, and our loyal community supporters, like you, who continue to donate and fundraise to improve treatments for the next generation of GI cancer patients.

Together, we move closer to our vision of a world where GI cancer is a disease of the past.


Learn more about GI cancers

View open GI cancer clinical trials

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