Dr Jason Powell | RAH Research Fund

Dr Jason Powell

Head of Cancer Cell Signalling Centre within the Molecular Signalling Laboratory Centre for Cancer Biology.

> Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

The team at the Centre are developing possibly one of the world’s first targeted treatments for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – the cancer that tragically cut short the life of golfer Jarrod Lyle.

Dr Powell and his team have identified a protein that is hyper-activated in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). The research team is now focused on developing new drugs to target this protein.

Initial experimentation shows that these drugs can selectively target the leukemic cells and, unlike standard chemotherapies, have no detrimental side effects on normal cell function.

These drugs may be able to halt and reverse many sub-types of AML and prevent their return after remission.

The early signs are there that it could become one of the world’s first targeted treatments for AML.

The research focuses on identifying cellular pathways that promote uncontrolled growth of leukaemic cells aiming to treat this aggressive form of leukaemia.

“Chemotherapy has been the main front-line therapy for cancer patients for several decades now,” Dr Powell said.

“But despite putting patients into remission, it has many debilitating side effects, and often patients relapse and succumb to the disease.

“I, and my fellow researchers, want to improve those outcomes for people. We’re aiming to develop new therapeutics that – unlike chemotherapeutics – specifically target cancer cells, while sparing normal cells.”

Dr Powell graduated from the Department of Genetics, Adelaide University in 2004, where his work focused on identifying drug targets in breast cancer. He then took up a post-doctoral research position in the Centre for Cancer Biology.

He has published more than 40 research manuscripts, including in prestigious international medical journals such as Cell, Blood and Cancer Research.

Professor Martin K. Oehler

Director of Gynaecological Oncology at the Royal Adelaide Hospital; Clinical Professor, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Adelaide; Adjunct Professor at the Future Industries Institute of the University of South Australia.
> Gynaecological Cancer

In Australia each year, about 1,600 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 1,000 die from this disease. Research at the Royal Adelaide Hospital is focussed on early detection and more effective treatments to improve survival. Read more

Dr Melissa Pitman

Head of the Drug Discovery Unit within the Centre for Cancer Biology’s Molecular Signalling Laboratory
> Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease that has been dubbed the “silent killer”. Dr Pitman’s team is focused on developing more weapons in the treatment arsenal and improving patient outcomes. Read more

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