PhD candidate Samantha Wade. Photo by Alex Pike.

PhD candidate Samantha Wade has taken out first place in the third Australian Falling Walls lab competition in Canberra

Ms Wade was one of 20 researchers and innovators at the Australian Academy of Science to present their work in three minutes. Subjects included nanoscopic neuroscience, data storage, preterm births and water recycling.

Samantha Wade will represent Australia at the Falling Walls finale in Berlin on 8 November.

Ms Wade is working on pancreatic cancer with Dr Kara Vine-Perrow. Pancreatic cancer has  a poor survival rate, less than 5% of patients survive five years after diagnosis. The low survival rate is in part due to difficulties in delivering adequate levels of chemotherapthy to the tumour site.

“I’m developing chemotherapy implants aimed at delivering high doses of multiple chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumour, with minimal side effects to the patient,” Ms Wade said.

Chemotherapy doses for pancreatic cancer are often intolerable to patients.

“The only potential cure for this disease is surgical removal of the tumour, however 80% of patients are deemed inoperable, as the cancer is commonly diagnosed after it has spread too far and often has wrapped around critical arteries,” Ms Wade added.

Patients are given palliative chemotherapy, which is largely ineffective, due to the dense tissue that grows around the tumour.

“My research focuses on finding a way to break the literal wall of tissue to treat this cancer, and we are working towards that by developing a biodegradable, polymeric implant that is loaded with multiple chemotherapy drugs, to actually insert inside the tumour where it can release the drug over an extended period of time,” said Ms Wade.

Localised drug delivery reduces toxic side effects commonly experienced by patients.

It’s hoped that now the implantation method chosen has been approved using FDA materials, it will speed up the process to clinical trials.

Photo credit: Alex Pike

Media coverage

Illawarra Mercury

14 September 2018: IHMRI researcher Samantha Wade to share research on world stage

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