Improving chemotherapy response in pancreatic cancer by Dr Brooke Pereira


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Dr Brooke Pereira is a post-doctoral Senior Research Officer and Cancer Institute NSW Fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, investigating novel co-targets in pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers, with a 5-year survival rate of <11%.  During pancreatic cancer development, the surrounding tissue becomes highly fibrotic and stiff, with a loss of blood vascularisation and changes in nutrient supply.  These changes can cause pancreatic cancer cells to undergo metabolic rewiring to survive, grow and spread.  They can also hinder drug delivery, leading to treatment resistance.

Dr Pereira’s overarching hypothesis is that co-targeting components of the pancreatic microenvironment will improve chemotherapy response in this devastating disease.

Dr Pereira’s ongoing project has recently received funding from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).  It will use samples from pancreatic cancer patients collected via the Avner Australian Pancreatic Cancer Matrix Atlas (APMA) to explore the repurposing of drugs currently approved for lowering cholesterol.  These cholesterol drugs will be combined with the chemotherapy currently administered to pancreatic cancer patients.  This new combination therapy could significantly improve the response to treatment for this devastating disease.

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Receiving the St. Vincent’s Clinic Foundation grant in 2022 enabled me to generate significant preliminary data assessing microenvironmental changes in pancreatic cancer development. From here, I applied for an NHMRC Ideas grant to explore this further using cutting-edge techniques such as multiphoton microscopy and intravital (in vivo) imaging.”