Gold Coast researchers target sugar in fight against cancer

A new, $7 million cancer research centre has been established at Griffith University Gold Coast to investigate the sugar coating on human cells – known as ‘glycans’ – and work out how the glycans could be used to better detect and treat cancers.

The Australian Centre for Cancer Glycomics is the only one of its kind in Australia and will be tasked with “pushing the boundaries in biomedical research and working towards the discovery of new cancer diagnostics, drugs and vaccines which will have global impact.”

Griffith University’s Professor Mark von Itzstein said the Centre’s work would focus completely on the impact and changes which are made to the sugar signatures on the surface of cancer cells.


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“As the human genome has detected gene-related changes in certain cancer cells, it’s these sugar signatures that will allow us to not only detect but also lead us to developing new treatments and vaccines.”

The new Australian Centre for Cancer Glycomics will work within the University’s Institute for Glycomics, which has already successfully developed a host of drug and vaccine discovery programs – particularly in the areas of cancer and infectious diseases – since it opened in 2000. The Institute’s programs have already come up with a number of major discoveries for metastatic cancers such as melanoma, and blood cancers like childhood leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.