Researcher receives leading NSW cancer research award

20 July 2011

Professor Roger Reddel has been recognised for his outstanding cancer research.
Professor Roger Reddel has been recognised for his outstanding cancer research.

Achieving significant advances in the study of cancer cells and their ability to reproduce has seen University of Sydney researcher, Professor Roger Reddel awarded the Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year at the Cancer Institute NSW Premier's Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.

Professor Reddel, who is the Sir Lorimer Dods Professor and Director of Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI), and head of CMRI's Cancer Research Unit, acknowledged the key contributions of past and present members of his team.

"I am very honoured to receive this prestigious award and I thank everyone who has made this work possible," said Professor Reddel.

Professor Reddel and his team at CMRI are best known for discovering Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres, the mechanism that 10 to 15 percent of cancers depend on for their continual growth. In addition, the team were the first to discover the molecular composition of the enzyme, telomerase, on which the other 85 percent of cancers depend.

The unlimited ability of cancer cells to proliferate is referred to as 'cellular immortalisation'. When Dr Reddel began researching cellular immortalisation, only a handful of researchers internationally thought it had any role in human cancers. Today, cellular immortalisation is widely recognised to be an almost universal characteristic of cancers. It may also be an important target for new anti-cancer treatments that specifically limit cancer cell proliferation.

"Because the overwhelming majority of cancers contain immortalised cells, and normal body tissues do not, if we can develop treatments that target immortalisation we expect that they will be useful for most types of cancers and have fewer side-effects on normal tissues than many of the cancer treatments available at present," Professor Reddel said.

"We also expect that detecting tell-tale signs of cellular immortalisation will be helpful as a diagnostic test for early detection of cancer early - when it usually easier to cure."

Cancer Council NSW CEO, Dr Andrew Penman AM, congratulated Professor Reddel on his award and highlighted Cancer Council NSW's ongoing commitment to support the most promising cancer research.

"Professor Reddel has been recognised for his outstanding long term contribution to cancer research," Dr Penman said.

"One day his work will make a real difference to a large number of cancer patients and their families. Cancer Council NSW is proud to have supported Professor Reddel and his team since 1988 and together we will work towards the vision of cancer defeated."

According to Cancer Institute NSW statistics, cancer is the leading cause of death in NSW people aged 35 to 84 years. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer in NSW is one in two for men and one in three for women.

The recognition of Professor Reddel's contribution to cancer research comes just prior to Jeans for Genes, the major national fundraiser of CMRI. All funds raised by Jeans for Genes support the Institute's scientists to advance the prevention and treatment of disease. Support Jeans for Genes Day on Friday 5 August.

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