Aussie breakthrough for cancer patients

Society Materials 8 October 2007 06:10

(ABC News) - An Australian scientist has created a test that could shorten chemotherapy courses and extend cancer patients' lives by determining the progress of their treatments.

Cancer patients currently have to undergo their full chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments for up to six months before they know if cancer cells have been destroyed.

But Professor Philip Hogg, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), has developed a dye that reveals whether treatments are working just days into the course.

"What you'll find is if the cancer drugs are working, you'll find that the tumour has taken up a lot of this dye," he said.

"If it's not working, it won't take up much of this dye at all, so from that non-invasive measure, you can then assess whether the therapy is working or not ...

"The end result of this is that the patient will get more benefit from the therapy and longer life and hopefully, a better quality one as well."

The dye has already been sold to a US pharmaceutical company at an undisclosed price but it is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

Professor Hogg says UNSW will see the benefits.

"It's a very favourable deal for UNSW and the country," he said.

Scientists hope the dye will be available for clinical trials in cancer patients in Australia but it will be around five years before it is widely available.